March 15th, 2010
11:26 AM ET
13 years ago

Rubio defends committee spending during South Carolina swing

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio defended himself Monday after a news report revealed that two political committees he started while serving in the Florida House spent heavily on operating costs and payments to relatives, but did little to help other Republicans seeking office.

"The whole story is based on false premises," Rubio told CNN Monday during a fundraising swing through South Carolina with one of his top political patrons, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint. "It costs money to be in politics and that's what the committees were for."

The story, published Saturday in the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald, said Rubio started one political committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership, in 2003. The committee only doled out $4,000 to GOP candidates, but spent nearly $90,000 on political consultants, $14,000 in reimbursements to Rubio and over $50,000 in credit card expenses, according to the report.

A second committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government, paid thousands of dollars to "couriers" - several of whom were Rubio's relatives. A top supporter of Rubio's opponent in the Florida Senate primary, Gov. Charlie Crist, accused Rubio and his family of "living off" the committees – a charge the Rubio campaign vehemently denied in the story.

Rubio said it's not uncommon for members of his political operation to be family members. He said the relatives were "staffers that worked on our campaign."

Rubio's campaign has acknowledged that the relatives should have been listed by bookkeepers as campaign aides, but said the candidate did nothing wrong.

Those family members, Rubio told CNN, were paid "for work delivered."

CNN caught up with Rubio on Monday. Watch the exclusive video after the jump:

"Like I said, that's for political work," he said. "That's the political things that the campaign did. It's a standard operating procedure."

During the brief interview, Rubio pointed out that his nephew, Orlando Cicilia, serves as his traveling aide.

"We do hire people we trust and believe in," Rubio said. "At the time they were 19-year old travel aides, but they worked at different and separate times. Nothing improper with that. This is just a distraction or diversion to try and divert attention, to try divert attention away form the central issues of this campaign."

DeMint also defended the committee spending, calling Crist "pretty desperate at this point."

"I have no doubts about Marco Rubio," DeMint told CNN.

Filed under: 2010 • Florida • Marco Rubio
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. rosslaw

    An essential part of what passes for so-called conservatism today is the crony capitalism that produces fiascos in a peace time economy and American casualties in a war time setting. Rubio and his sticky-fingered conservative ilk really, truly belief that everyone else's money is their's for the taking as part of some sort of delusional divine plan.

    March 15, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Mickey

    Hey's that whole back-waxing on the taxpayer's dime dealie working out for you?

    March 15, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Gary

    If he is running in Florida, why is he campaigning in South Carolina....can someone explain this to me?

    March 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. harvey

    Aw, c'mon, he was only doing what any hard-core, right-wing, Conservative Republican zealot would do – the people's business. Just like Dick Cheney giving no-bid contracts to Halliburton. Just like Scott Brown shilling for funds on FOX News (FOX News, there's an oxymoron). I hope someone gets the credit card records to find out what was purchased for over 50 grand. This Boobio is going to jail, where he can do some other people's business!

    March 15, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. jeremy.....Dallas...Texas

    Oh my God. What a evil shameless guy ruining chances to clean our party? He deserves jail time and the more we know about him the closer he gets to it. Shame on tea baggers. Batch of liars like palin

    March 15, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Marty, FL

    Sadly, another faux "fiscal conservative."

    Sorry Mr. DeMint, er I mean Mr. Rubio, this is FL, not SC. No gracias.

    March 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. cspurgeon

    Man if this guy isn't cooking for some payoffs. I am done with him. I believe an investigation needs to be done on all ..both sides and throw the crooks out or at least not let any more in. I am sorry I don't want my tax dollars and or contributions going to this shady guy and his family. Do any of you?

    March 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. floridian

    ok floridians how in the world could anyone vote for this crook? This crook has already broke the law not to mention other ethics he has probably broken. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this clown is crooked.

    March 15, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Dude is more full of sh-t than a Senate Republican's ideological diapers.

    March 15, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. mike

    could I have some rubios it is all in the family what happen
    to the tea party how come they are not out there protesting putting
    a nose on marcos face calling him a lier I guess its another republican
    getting in to office and the party they need to get some expresso
    an wake up from fantasy island the plane boss the plane

    March 15, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Stephan

    As this gets deeper, so will Rubio's problems down the line. This will give Crist plenty of ammo to frame Rubio as a hack. Watch Jeb Bush, if he goes quiet it's bad news for Rubio.

    March 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. carlos

    if he is a repulsive CONservative.......send him and all the others to the middle of the ocean....not much will be missed.....criminals all

    March 15, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Republicans are fiscal frauds.

    March 15, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    Just what we need, another lying politician. These guys are just in it for themselves. Why don't honest people run for office?

    March 15, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. James B

    Isn'r Rubio running againsy Crist because he was fed up with "politics as usual " ? Isn't this the same game that all politicians do ? Dude, just come out and admit your faults become they come back to haunt you. Looks like may be back in the running.

    March 15, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Malcolm in St Louis

    another pig with his nose in the trough and trying to sound sanctimonious.

    March 15, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rubio said it's not uncommon for members of his political operation to be family members.

    Rubio, you "dumb blonde", you're NOT supposed to admit to nepotism! Didn't you read the memo? If you're going to play with the Big Boys, learn the rules. Now you can add this to your questionable Amex spending habits. It's looking kinda grim for ya. Hire TCM, his only job appears to be blogging under multiple pseudonyms!!

    March 15, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    In other words "this is between Rubio and his family and tax payers and voters have nothing to do with how he spends your money" so in your face.

    March 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Lia

    Uh-Oh and another one bites the dust!

    March 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Ramirez

    Who cares...the Obama admin has doled out more than this to Geithner's cronies.

    March 15, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Yep, a true conservitive for sure! Spend like a drunken sailor with someone elses money and then deny it or trivialize it.

    March 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Andi

    South Carolina is the perfect place for him, but isn't he running in Florida?

    March 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Rubio failed to disclose $34,000 in expenses — including $7,000 he paid himself — for one of the committees in 2003 and 2004, as required by state law.

    • One committee paid relatives nearly $14,000 for what was incorrectly described to the IRS as "courier fees" and listed a nonexistent address for one of them. Another committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who was listed as the treasurer, much of it for "gas and meals."


    He is a fraud just like most of the Conservative Republicans who think they are above the LAW when it comes to corrept!

    March 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Every single thing Marco Rubio did was in accordance with both the letter and spirit, not only of Florida law, but of the policies and practices of the Republican Party of Florida," said Rubio campaign adviser Todd Harris, though he admitted the $34,000 in expenses should have been reported. "While every penny was accounted for, not all of the bureaucratic paperwork was filed and we will take whatever steps are appropriate to make sure that gets done."

    The writting is on the wall and if he get elected shame on Florida. He is a big spender and no way he this man Fiscal conservative – just in name like most Republicans!

    March 15, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. hobart

    Typical Republican MO, say one thing, do another, scream commie-nazi-socialist-traitor at anyone who disagrees with you about anything, and bank on nobody noticing.

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    March 15, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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