Do Rubio's denials on credit card charges meet the smell test?


The Rubio team reacted furiously to the story, charging that his opponent in the Florida Senate race, Governor Charlie Crist, authorized the leak (for weeks now critics have said that the credit card expenditures of those Florida Republican officials who have had such cards should be released.  Rubio agreed, if they were all released at the same time).   Rubio wrote in a letter to new RPOF head John Thrasher that "


these internal documents were taken from the RPOF by former Chairman Jim Greer, or someone working for him, and were leaked to the media by the Crist Campaign.


In a press release issued last night (he also record a video to reply to the leak), Rubio said:


It’s unfortunate that this is what Charlie Crist has been reduced to.  But this is what happens when voters like you start responding to a message like mine of challenging the status quo and restoring America’s limited government tradition – the people most committed to the status quo lash out and smear anyone who stands in their way.


Bottom line: Charlie Crist knows that if this election is about the issues, he cannot win. And it’s why he’s going to do everything he can to make this election about anything but the issues that matter most to you.


Rubio can fulminate about the leak, but the revelations or no doubt unattractive  for a man who has based much of his campaign flailing against the excesses of government spending.  As to the claim that the Crist campaign leaked the documents, the governor may have plausible denial, but that doesn't mean others high up in the party who support Crist might have had a hand in this leak.


The Herald story ends with a quote by Tallahassee attorney John French, that ``If you can look at an IRS agent with a straight face and say this was for electioneering purposes, that's fine. If you can't, you shouldn't do it. It's got to pass the smell test.''


Rubio disagrees.  You can read his letter to John Thrasher explaining what he understood he could use the AmEx card for here.


The Marco Rubio camp is apoplectic this morning following the leak reported by the Miami Herald/St  Pete Times last night of personlized items that the former House Speaker charged to a Republican Party credit card from 2005 to 2008.

Among the embarrassing charges that Rubio used the credit card for include a $133.75 trip to an upscale barber shop in downtown Miami called Churchills.

These are the key graphs in the story written by Beth Reinhard and Scott Hiassen:

Rubio said the party allowed him to put personal expenses on the card — and the party reviewed his bill monthly.

``I was as diligent as possible to ensure the party did not pay for items that were unrelated to party business,'' Rubio said in a written statement. ``There was no formal process provided by the Party regarding personal charges.''

Party spokeswoman Katie Gordon said the card was not supposed to be used for personal expenses. ``The RPOF American Express card is a corporate card and is meant to be used for business expenses.''

Donations to parties must go exclusively toward influencing elections under IRS rules.

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