Political commentator, author, and former senior advisor to President Bill Clinton Dick Morris has a warning for Republican Party elites who are buoying Marco Rubio’s campaign.
“In the general election, Hillary will feast on the records of Rubio’s personal finances,” Morris tells Breitbart News exclusively.
Although Rubio has not won a single primary state, corporate media has crowned him as the choice candidate of Party insiders and donors.
“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men — and Fox News — are trying to shove Marco Rubio down the throats of the Republican electorate,” Morris writes in his most recent column. “The would-be kingmakers are relying on massive amounts of money to elect Rubio. And they rely on huge doses of propaganda every night from Fox News.”
Yet Morris—who was once the ultimate insider of insiders in the Democratic Party—warns that should Republican Party kingmakers get their way, Rubio’s dubious record of personal finances will provide rich fodder for the Clinton machine in a general election—and may perhaps dull the ability of the Republican Party to use the Clintons’ scandals against her.
“His abuse of his Republican Party credit card, his sweetheart home equity loan from a corrupt banker who went to jail, and his co-ownership of a foreclosed property with a former Congressman who was forced out of office will all be key issues against him,” Morris tells Breitbart.
Morris explains that these issues have gone largely undiscussed throughout the primary election,and ought to be addressed before voters cast their ballots. “Republicans must demand the truth from him before they trust him to carry their choice,” Morris tells Breitbart.
Indeed, while numerous reports have documented Rubio’s questionable financial history, Rubio’s record has yet to become a central focus of the primary race.
This is perhaps, in part, because Rubio seems to dismiss many of these fact-based reports as attacks from his political rivals. This has arguably become a go-to campaign tactic for Sen. Rubio, who recently seemed to try to discredit ICE officer of 13 years and U.S. marine, Chris Crane, as a “conspiracy” theorist after Crane detailed Rubio’s history of treating law enforcement “like absolute trash.”
Indeed, during last October’s CNBC debate, Becky Quick pressed Rubio on whether his financial record suggests that he lacks the “maturity” to be President:
Senator Rubio, you, yourself, have said that you’ve had issues. You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally intermingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year, you liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and the wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy. What do you think?
Rubio immediately dismissed the substance of Quick’s question: “Well, you just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents, and I’m not going to waste 60 seconds detailing them all.”
Rubio’s response prompted Joe Scarborough to declare that Rubio “flat-out lied” to the American people:
Becky Quick went down the list of proven things about Marco’s foreclosures and all of Marco’s economic problems. Talking about lying; Marco said ‘I’m not going to answer those lies they’ve all been discredited.’… Marco just flat-out lied to the American people, there… And I was stunned that the moderators didn’t stop there and go, ‘Wait a second, these are court records. What are you talking about?’
Below are merely a few of the financial dealings which may present unique challenges to Sen. Rubio’s campaign.
1) Reports show that during his time in Florida state politics, Rubio used the Republican Party’s credit card for personal expenses.
As the Miami Herald Times reported in November of 2015:
Rubio has said there were times he mistakenly pulled out the card — such as when he paid more than $3,756 for pavers at his West Miami home — but also appears to have knowingly done so, repeatedly. In those instances, which grew in number over the years he had the card, Rubio said he identified the charges and paid them back, though that cannot be fully corroborated by the records now, a decade later.
The Herald Times writes: “His use of the card speaks to broader issues concerning Rubio’s use of political money and his personal finances, which were shaky throughout his rise in state politics and have come back into view as he climbs in stature in the race for president”:
In 2003 and 2004, before getting the RPOF card, Rubio controlled two well-funded political committees created to boost his bid for House speaker. Typically such committee funds go to helping other candidates, a way of currying favor and showing party loyalty. But Rubio gave only $4,000 to candidates. The bulk of the $600,000 the committees raised went to office and administrative costs — costs that helped enhance Rubio’s stature. He spent nearly $90,000 on political consultants and $50,000 for credit card payments.
What’s more, Rubio failed to disclose $34,000 in committee expenses, including $7,000 he paid himself, as reported in 2010 by the Herald/Times. Rubio used credit cards to pay for $51,000 in travel expenses that were never specified on his reports, breaking from practice followed by other lawmakers, though state law did not require itemization…
He pressed the state Ethics Commission, which got a complaint from a man who read the stories in 2010, to resolve the case and it did in 2012, dismissing the case. Rubio declined to be interviewed by an investigator, who said the ‘negligence’ exhibited by Rubio’s confusion between the GOP American Express and his own MasterCard, and failing to recognize the error on monthly statements, was ‘disturbing.’”
The report from the Herald Times seems to suggest that rather than addressing the substance of these findings, Rubio is– once again– dismissing the reports by chalking them up to political dirty tricks. The Herald Times writes, “Now that he’s a rising presidential contender, Rubio has dismissed questions about his AmEx spending in similar fashion, calling them unfounded political attacks.”
2) Multiple reports have documented Rubio’s questionable real estate dealings
As the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2008:
Rubio and his wife bought the West Miami home for $550,000 in December 2005, with a $55,000 down payment. A month later, Rubio qualified for the equity loan from Miami-based U.S. Century Bank because an appraisal valued the home at $735,000. Rubio said the appraisal was legitimate but experts aren’t so sure.
‘It looks a lot like somebody’s currying favor with an important political person,’ said Michael Cannon, a market analyst and executive director of Integra Realty Resources-Miami.
The report explains that U.S. Century Bank’s board included Rubio supporters: the “board includes such South Florida political heavyweights as developer Sergio Pino, lobbyist Rodney Barreto and consultant Jose Cancela… Rubio has helped build a formidable political machine with the help of Cancela, and has relied on Pino for campaign-finance support. Pino-controlled companies contributed about $3,000 to Rubio in 2006.”
According to a 2010 report in the Herald Tribune:
Another questionable deal arose in May 2007, when Rubio sold his first home — the one he purchased in 2003 for $175,000 and had been renting — to Nora Cereceda. At the time of the sale, Cereceda’s son — chiropractor Mark Cereceda, who runs a chain of clinics — was aggressively lobbying Rubio over a state insurance issue. Nora Cereceda paid $380,000 cash for the house, a $205,000 profit for Rubio at a time when the market had begun to drop.
The report notes that after the sale, Rubio voted for legislation which would benefit the Cerecedas:
The sale price was comparable to other sales at the time, but the home value has since dropped nearly in half, to $215,403, according to the county property appraiser’s website. Shortly after Dr. Cereceda’s mother purchased the home, Rubio removed the House’s block on the insurance provision and voted for it himself. Governor Crist and the Senate had already come out in favor of the bill and Rubio was the main holdout. The legislation extended the state mandate that drivers purchase $10,000 worth of personal injury insurance. Many of Dr. Cereceda’s customers are injured drivers who pay with insurance.
Rubio was also the co-owner of a Tallahassee home with David Rivera, whom Politico describes as, the “scandal-plagued former Congressman under investigation in a federal campaign-finance probe.” Politico reports that during Rubio’s 2010 Senate race “foreclosure proceedings [were] embarrassingly initiated against them.”
3) Reports document “questions surround[ing] Marco Rubio’s role at Florida College”
In 2008, Rubio became a salaried visiting professor at Florida International University. According to reports, however, Rubio often failed to show up for the job. Yet during that time, Rubio raised substantial money for the University via his billionaire “patron”, Norman Braman.
As an NBC report from earlier this month states: “Documents and records obtained by NBC News suggest that as a visiting professor at Florida International University, he [Rubio] worked less than 10 hours a week and missed three-in-10 classes during his first semester of teaching – all while making more than most part-time visiting professors.”
According to the NBC report, his salary for this position was $69,000, which “was considerably more than the $52,000 another part-time visiting professor at the center was making… It was a salary that raised eyebrows among some FIU professors, prompting questions at an FIU Faculty Senate meeting late last year.”
According to a 2010 report from the Herald Tribune, Rubio’s job “was never publicly advertised.” In fact, the report notes that the year Rubio was hired, “the university cut 23 degree programs and 200 jobs. Another 200 jobs were cut the next year. Thomas Breslin, chairman of the faculty Senate at Florida International University, said some faculty members complained about Rubio’s being hired at a time of deep budget cuts.”
The Herald Tribune notes:
Rubio had been a good friend to the university. He helped secure $15 million for a hurricane center, $11 million for a medical school, $2.5 million for a student academic support center and millions more in other budget requests for FIU while he was speaker of the House… After joining the FIU faculty, Rubio subsequently paid his boss, Dario Moreno, the professor who helped get him hired, $12,000 to conduct polling for his U.S. Senate campaign. Moreno stopped working for Rubio when the payment was reported in the media.
As NBC reports:
According to his office, from August of 2008 – November of 2009, Rubio raised approximately $125,000 for the Center — enough to cover his salary and then some. A sizeable chunk of that, $100,000, came from Norman Braman — the wealthy auto magnate who’s been a longtime benefactor to Rubio, is helping to bankroll his campaign and whose charitable foundation employs Rubio’s wife.
Rubio’s close relationship with Norman Braman has been documented. As the New York Times reports:
Mr. Braman has emerged as a remarkable and unique patron. He has bankrolled Mr. Rubio’s campaigns. He has financed Mr. Rubio’s legislative agenda. And, at the same time, he has subsidized Mr. Rubio’s personal finances, as the rising politician and his wife grappled with heavy debt and big swings in their income… A detailed review of their relationship shows that Mr. Braman, 82, has left few corners of Mr. Rubio’s world untouched. He hired Mr. Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family’s philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Mr. Rubio’s salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Mr. Rubio access to his private plane. The money has flowed both ways. Mr. Rubio has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman’s favored causes.
The NYTimes notes that while Rubio has said
The flow of donations from Mr. Braman had no effect on his decision-making as House speaker, adding that he would never give preferential treatment to a donor… in 2008, when Mr. Braman sought the $80 million for the genomics institute at the University of Miami, a large taxpayer grant to a private college, Mr. Rubio delivered the opposite message: Mr. Braman’s request, he said, had tilted the scales. Usually, Mr. Rubio said at a news conference at the time, he would have laughed off such an eye-popping pitch. ‘But when Norman Braman brings it to you,’ Mr. Rubio said, ‘you take it seriously.’
4) Reports show that Rubio’s biography says that while he was in the Florida legislature
As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports:
In the mid-2000s, Marco Rubio was described as having ‘represented local governments before Congress’ — meaning that he was a lobbyist — for a prestigious Florida law firm. Officials for the Florida senator’s presidential campaign have said in recent days that Rubio wasn’t a lobbyist. The Washington Post first reported that Rubio had registered as a federal lobbyist in the 2003 for the law firm Becker & Poliakoff. His campaign said the senator had no recollection of filing out the registration form…
Yet Buzfeed reports that a biography for a separate firm similarly describes Rubio as a lobbyist: “Rubio’s bio page at Broad and Cassel also noted he had ‘represented multiple clients before local government on contract procurement and affordable housing land use issues.’”
5) Report suggests Rubio staffer may have enriched corporate clients through legislation
According to a report from CNN, while crafting the Gang of Eight bill, Rubio “hired as his chief negotiator” a man named Enrique Gonzalez, “a corporate attorney who represented clients with a direct stake in the legislation.”
“At the time, Gonzalez’s firm told the media that he had made a “clean break,” putting to rest questions over any conflict. Yet a few months after the bill passed the Senate in June 2013, Gonzalez returned to his old employer — Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy — one of the nation’s largest immigration firms,” CNN writes.
Again the CNN report seems to suggest that Rubio dismissed these findings as an attack from his political rivals. Rubio’s spokesman Alex Burgos told CNN, “Anyone who is now trying to misconstrue his service in our office years ago is obviously trying to hurt Marco’s presidential campaign.”
Yet CNN notes that:
Throughout the talks, some lawmakers and staff suspected that Gonzalez was doing the bidding of his old firm, including briefing his former partners about the state-of-play of the negotiations. According to a document provided by Gonzalez laying out his work with Rubio, the attorney said he did consult with a variety of experts during the talks but contended it was purely for informational purposes. He said he arranged a briefing for GOP staff members with lawyers in Fragomen’s Australian and U.K. offices, who were experts in their respective countries’ merit-based immigration systems, information that helped them shape the proposal.
The report documents how the bill included special immigration provisions that would benefit cruise line operations, the entertainment industry, and academic institutions. CNN notes that while at his law firm, Gonzalez had clients in those industries, most notably the Carnival cruise line operator.
As Breitbart News has previously reported, Carnival has also donated money to Sen. Rubio. According to open-secrets, Carnival Corporation is one of the top 20 contributors to Rubio’s campaign committee since 2011, having donated $14,500.
CNN notes that Gonzalez “played a lead role negotiating the bill’s proposal” to expand the controversial H-1B foreign worker program.
In recent months, Rubio has come under fire for his support for expanding the H-1B visa. Last year, scores of Rubio’s own constituents were laid off by Florida Disney and were forced to train their low-wage foreign replacements brought in on H-1B visas. After the Gang of Eight bill failed, Rubio tried yet again to expand H-1B visas through his 2015 Immigration Innovation Act—known as the I-Squared bill. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger endorsed Rubio’s 2015 bill via his immigration lobbying firm. According to Open Secrets, the Walt Disney Corporation has been one of Rubio’s biggest financial boosters, having donated more than $2 million.
Tomorrow, the Senate Immigration Subcommittee will hold a hearing examining “The Impact of High-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Workers.” Leo Perrero–a constituent of Sen. Rubio and a displaced Disney IT engineer who was forced to train his H-1B foreign replacement– is scheduled to testify as a witness in tomorrow’s hearing.