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. DP


    March 15, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. mike

    I thought this fool was a Teabagger? Now he's a 'republican' ? whats the real story here CNN ?

    Sounds like the Teabagger movement got teabagged by one of their own frauds ...

    I love it ...

    March 15, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Jay

    At no point during this clip does Marco Rubio mention that he is running to fix problems in Florida...only the "central issues" facing the nation. Sounds like he is running for president already!

    March 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Wisconsonite - Stop Smoking the Tea Bags!

    Just another Republican liar. They'll promise anything if it'll get them a couple more votes.

    March 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Tayo, NY

    Ye shall know the truth!

    And, the truth will set you free!!

    Certainly the truth is better!!!

    Certainly the more we get to know about this guy the more his true color is revealed!!!!

    March 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. David H. In Florida

    Personally I don't plan on voting for either Christ or Rubio. This crap just proves that Florida is going down the tubes because of our wonderful Republican state government.

    And he's not in Florida because the GOP is about to lose everything they have here. Just watch.

    March 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. David H. In Florida

    Crist has no spine and NEVER makes a stand for anything and Rubio's an embezzling Republican. Surprise surprise. Not like I would vote republican at all.
    Hey CNN, you should cover Alex Sink and her run for Florida Governor against Bill McCollum. He's another Washington Republican that can't keep his hands out of the cookie jar.

    March 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Michael from Ventura

    Hypocrite and Liar.....perfect gop candidate.

    March 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. FL resident

    Well, seems like Mr. Rubio is going to have to pay the piper, not only that there were rumors about being gay. Well it would be interesting if he would let his feelings known about his stance on GLBT issues.

    March 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. zago

    My dear friend Rubbio, it looks like it's over. You can't be defending yourself every moment. The defense fence will falter. Sometimes, it pays to be in the offensive. If you are in the position that you seem to be, no matter what your polling numbers say, I believe that you will not make it. Spending all that money just on your small ego and tell the people it costs money to be in politics sounds a monumental error. It looks like your true character is coming out on broad daylight and you being defined a bit early in the process as flawed. If you make it, I will be surprised. If I know the ABC of politics, I would encourage you to think about your future NOW.

    March 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. SY

    Rubio learned everything he knows from Jeb Bush and the rest of the Bush clan. I'm sure Jim Demint is one of his favorite mentors. Rubio, like most conservatives, swears by small government and no spending by government, which translates into more money in their pockets. Fiscal conservatives don't like government and while in charge they suck the life out of your government as well as private enterprise so they can stuff their corporate supported profits. These people are not supporters of small and medium business owners; business to them means corporate giants. If you think for one second that Jeb Bush supported small business owners when he was governor of Fl. you are sadly mistaken.

    Instead of smaller government and fiscal conservatism, they ought to be concerned about efficient government, regardless of size, and fiscal efficiency.

    March 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. guest1001+2

    People – this is why a politician=crook will spend $$millions$$ to get elected to a job that pays $170K per year. One good congressional seat can provide comfort for a whole family, and for the future of their children. Has anyone every taken a few minutes to consider how many "staffers" support each congressional rep? Or the value to the economy of the money that flows to lobbyists – yeah I know your special interest group is only supported by honorable people.

    Of course that doesn't diminish the value of travel perks (domestic and international) or the very comfortable retirement and health benefits that the job provides. AND, this applies to both of the so-called political=crook parties.

    March 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |

    Wingnut alert. Follow the money. They are REALLY ripping off the garbagebaggers that are so concerned with government spending. That shoe will drop next.

    March 15, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. vijay

    what a honest guy. He do anything to win election. Don't they.

    March 15, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    He should fit right in with the DC insiders. We need to start realizing what this is all about. $$$$$. That's it.

    We have to stop sending people like Rubio to Congress, and we have to get those who are corporate owned out. I don't care which side of the aisle they're on. We've lost our voice to Corporate America until we wake up and find it.

    March 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Wayne

    From Florida: Just another thief in Republican's clothing. ALL of them down here are crooks.

    March 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Ecor

    Rubio, Rubik. What is the difference? With the Cube, you can twist, turn, spin and eventually reach a true solution.

    March 15, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Monkey wrench

    Puleaaaze Louise! You Democrat libtards condemning Rubio need to take a look at your own Party and Campaigner in Chief if you want to start talking wasted and mis-used tax dollars, remember stim-u-less, that near trillion dollars that didn't do squat? How many hand maidens was that taking care of the First Lady now? How many campaign flights to who knows where for the anointed one to push a bill nobody but the have nots want? Give me a break....

    March 15, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. sharon

    rubio and his "new" problems.......
    christ + sugar company and their problems....

    wait..............the sugar companies also paid for bush1 campaign....
    boy.........they sure are busy.

    March 15, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. It has begun-

    Amazing the ignorance here. Rubio is running for the US Senate you bunch of idiots. Charlie Crist has managed to destroy the economy in Florida and now wants to join the US Senate to finish the job on the rest of the country.

    They are all a bunch of crooks. Can we say Charlie Rangel, John Murtha, William Jefferson, Massa, Pelosi, Nelson, Landrieu, Dirty Harry. ALL DEMOCRATS AND ALL A BUNCH OF CROOKS. But its' ok when Dems do it right?

    Oh and Democratics are the pillar of fiscal responsibility right?

    March 15, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. D. Bunker

    Rubio is most certainly NOT a "fiscal conservative." He is, however, a "crony capitalist" that will try to lie his way into office to steal from you the taxpayer. Electing him would be like electing a fox to guard a henhouse.

    March 15, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Jack

    We need to rid ourselves of professional politicians and mandate that all candidates be regular people with term limits for both the candidate and his/her staff.

    March 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    So, to sum it up, if Rubio gets to be governor his family will have access to all of the state of Florida funds and the nepotism will keep them all employed as "curriers".

    Yeah, more corruption exposed, but you cons go right ahead and vote him in. Surely you can find another religious zealot that has enough money of his own that he does not have to steal from the state.

    March 15, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. rdepontb

    What a twit-and worse, he seems to think the public is just full of people who are even worse twits. He expects us to believe there is nothing going on in his shady background that we need to concern ourselves about. He's a glad-hander at heart, maybe ready for some small county's Visitor's Bureau, but not for real politics.

    Florida is in a serious position, it is a serious state with great people-Rubio is not ready for prime time at all.

    March 15, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Brian

    Typical politics, here comes the dirt.

    March 15, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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