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IRS Probes Rubio’s GOP Credit Card Use

From the St. Petersburg Times:

U.S. attorney, IRS and FBI investigating Florida GOP credit card use

By Jay Weaver, Beth Reinhard and Lucy Morgan, Times/Herald Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Federal law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tallahassee, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are all involved in the inquiry, which grew out of the state investigation into former House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was indicted on criminal charges that he stashed $6 million in the state budget for an airplane hangar for a friend and campaign donor…

A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, Katie Betta, said she could not confirm the investigation nor make any comments. Coming in a high-stakes election year, the investigation could expose the inner-workings of a party that has dominated state government and raked in millions of dollars from lobbyists and special interests.

What media bias?

Meanwhile, in a separate inquiry, the IRS is also looking at the tax records of at least three former party credit card holders — former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-state party chairman Jim Greer and ex-party executive director Delmar Johnson — to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry.

Political parties, which are tax exempt, are allowed to spend money only on political activities, such as fundraising, running campaigns and registering voters. While it’s commonplace for party officials and politicians to wine and dine donors, the Florida party allowed credit card holders to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges with little oversight.

The IRS opened the so-called "primary” investigation into Rubio, the leading Republican candidate for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, and the two former state GOP officials to see if there’s enough evidence to support a full-fledged criminal inquiry, according to a source familiar with the IRS examination.

Did they really mean “primary” or “preliminary”? We suspect the latter. However, with today’s shoddy journalism, you can never be sure what they are trying to say.

In either case, how common is it for the news of such IRS investigations to be leaked to the press? Or does that only happen to Republican candidates in important elections?

Rubio campaign adviser Todd Harris said Tuesday that the former lawmaker from Miami has not been contacted by any federal investigators.

"There is absolutely nothing to this,” he said. "Anyone who is looking into it or investigating will quickly come to the same conclusion.”

At this stage of the IRS investigation, agents are looking at federal tax records, state financial disclosure forms and other documents to see whether Rubio, Greer and Johnson may have personally benefited from using their GOP American Express cards without reporting or paying taxes on additional income

The party stopped issuing credit cards last year after Greer cut up his own American Express card at a party meeting to try to quash the uproar over spending.

Rubio billed the party for more than $100,000 during the two years he served as House speaker, according to credit card statements obtained by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald. The charges included repairs to the family minivan, grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife and purchases from retailers ranging from a wine store near his home to Apple’s online store. Rubio also charged the party for dozens of meals during the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee, even though he received taxpayer subsidies for his meals.

The outrage! But lest we forget, this is money from the Republican Party — not taxpayers.

This is the same watchdog media that largely ignored the fact that Ms. Pelosi and her Democrat pals spent several millions of taxpayer dollars on their junket to Copenhagen last year — to cite just one example.

Rubio said the billings all related to party business — the minivan, for example, was damaged by a valet at a political function — and that he repaid the party for about $16,000 in personal expenses.

Asked during his campaign bus tour last week if he needed to amend his tax returns to reflect any party money that covered his personal expenses, Rubio said, "We don’t believe it’s income. It’s not. . . . Whatever the law is, we’re going to comply, but I don’t think it’s income.”

Rubio’s struggling rival for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist, has seized on the former lawmaker’s credit card spending to try to raise questions about his integrity.

But of course he isn’t getting any help from the local media. That would be unfair.

Rubio acknowledged in February that he double-billed state taxpayers and the party for several plane flights from South Florida to Tallahassee. He said he would pay the party back about for eight flights totaling about $3,000, but the party said Tuesday it had not received a check.

Harris said the campaign has determined that only six were double-billed and is waiting for the party to verify the exact amount.

Rubio’s tax attorney, Steve Wasserstein, said Tuesday that the double-billing was an "accounting mistake” that does not require an amended filing and will be easily rectified when Rubio repays the party.

Gosh, our watchdog media are adamant about not wasting the Republican Party’s money.

You can bet the Democrats are jealous that they don’t take such an interest in keeping track of theirs.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “IRS Probes Rubio’s GOP Credit Card Use”

  1. proreason says:

    Confirmed. They are as afraid of Rubio as they are of Sarah Barfacuda.

    Wouldn’t you love to see a debate between Rubio and the Teleprompter Queen (Obamy)?

  2. Mithrandir says:

    Also, if you have a long-form birth certificate somewhere in Hawaii, it’s best just to show everyone to end the suspicion…

  3. bill says:

    Obama-zombies trying to bailout Crist the next Arlene Specter.

  4. Right of the People says:

    “–a party that has dominated state government and raked in millions of dollars from lobbyists and special interests.”

    Which the Dimocraps wish was theirs.

    Over the next few months we’re going to get to see who the libs are most afraid of. Those that get slammed the most in the media are the ones we all need to support.

  5. TwilightZoned says:

    Sicking the state AG, FBI, and IRS on anyone is tyranny.

    • proreason says:

      So you think that just because there is tens of billions of dollars in Income Tax fraud, and because the IRS is set to hire 16,000+ new agents to enforce the purchase of health insurance premiums, and because there are tens of billions in questionable federal earmarks, and because the national debt is going up 1.3 trillion this year, and because the entire cabinet of Poland was killed a week ago, and because Iran is on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon, and because Obamy himself has said there is about 200 billion dollars annually in Medicare fraud and because there are 13 to 20 million illegal immigrants in this country (many of whom are big-time criminals), and because unemployment is at record heights, and because economically the country is on the verge of collapse……..that just because of stuff like that, maybe the IRS and FBI would have better things to do than investigate a few hundred dollars of travel expenses that were as likely as not to be perfectly legal, by a state government official who doesn’t even hold a federal office?

      It’s the details that count TZ. It’s all about transparency.


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