Marco Rubio camp bristles after new story about his financial history surfaces

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Friends, advisers and supporters of Marco Rubio seemed to almost enjoy mocking The New York Times  this past weekend, after the Times reported that he and his his wife had racked up 17 driving citations since 1997. They include incidents involving speeding, running red lights, and careless driving. The Florida Senator himself actually had only four such infractions; Jeannette Rubio 13.

Now Team Rubio is again bashing The Times, but whether they’re dismissals of a new story on the paper’s website Tuesday will be easily dispatched is questionable.

“Struggles with Finances Track Marco Rubio’s Career,” is written by Times reporters Steve Eder and Michael Barbaro, and actually reprises a lot of information that has already been published by the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida-based publications over the years, some going back to when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

But it’s still worthy of review.

“A review of the Rubio family’s finances — including many new documents — reveals a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent,” Eder and Barbaro write. “Significant debts; a penchant to spend heavily on luxury items like the boat and the lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7; a strikingly low savings rate, even when Mr. Rubio was earning large sums; and inattentive accounting that led to years of unpaid local government fees.”

The story also reprises an incident that local Republican Chris Ingram talked and wrote about back in 2010: his use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card to pay for stone pavers at his house.

And it quotes a financial planner named Harold Evensky, who says that Rubio’s accumulation of debt about a decade ago is “staggering,” adding, “this was someone that was living financially dangerously.”

But the Rubio campaign is firing back with all guns blazing, blasting the paper for being “elitist” for daring to write about the financial decisions that the man who wants to be leader of the free world has made over the years.

“The New York Times today attacked Marco because he could not afford to pay for college, arrogantly describing his student loan debt as ‘a deep financial hole of his own making.’ The attack from The Times is just the latest in their continued hits against Marco and his family,” said Communications Director Alex Conant. “First The New York Times attacked Marco over traffic tickets, and now they think he doesn’t have enough money. Of course if he was worth millions, The Times would then attack him for being too rich, like they did to Mitt Romney.”

“What The Times misses is that getting rich is not what has driven Senator Rubio’s financial decisions. His goal at this stage in his life is to provide his four children with a good home, a quality education, and a safe and happy upbringing,” Conant added. “As he wrote in his book, ‘The mark I make in this world will not be decided by how much money I make or how many titles I attain. Rather, the greatest mark I can leave is the one I will make as a father and a husband.’”

The press release from the Rubio camp also states his financial situation as it stands now:

Marco has a single debt, the mortgage on his home.

Marco has decided to send his four children to private Christian schools in Miami, and has created college savings accounts for each child.

Over the past several years, Marco has donated close to $150,000 to charity.

Marco’s monthly financial obligations do not put his family finances above the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio the federal government suggests is worrisome.

Marco’s paid off over $150,000 in student loans from his undergraduate and law degree.

Undoubtedly, Team Rubio feels that their candidate’s past financial struggles puts him more in line with most Americans, a majority of whom have credit card debt of over $15,000. 

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.