Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio recently took aim at Hillary Clinton, condemning the impression of "constant scandal
" surrounding her candidacy. All things considered, the Florida senator may not be the ideal messenger for this message.
Recently, some of Rubio's own controversies have drawn scrutiny. The New York Times reported
, for example, on the senator's ties to Florida billionaire Norman Braman, who hired Rubio and his wife and gave the Rubios access to his private plane. For his part, the Republican policymaker "has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman's favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami institute for which Mr. Braman is a major donor."
More controversial still are Rubio's connections to former Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) and the home Politico
's Marc Caputo calls the "house of horrors
Marco Rubio finally sold his money-pit of a home in Tallahassee on Tuesday, freeing the presidential candidate from a nagging financial liability and allowing him to distance himself from his scandal-plagued co-owner, former Rep. David Rivera, Florida Republican sources familiar with the transaction tell POLITICO. Rubio and Rivera closed on the home with an as-yet-unnamed buyer who purchased the home for $117,000 -- $8,000 less than the asking price and $18,000 less than the two men paid for it in March 2005 when they both served as state legislators, sources said. "Free at last," one Rubio friend told POLITICO.
Well, sort of. The GOP presidential hopeful now appears to be free of the house he was desperate to sell, but he's not yet free of questions surrounding Rivera -- an almost comically scandal-plagued politician Rubio has described as his "most loyal friend and supporter."
The Washington Post
just some of the problems with Rubio's pal.
Rivera, who failed to win reelection, has been a target of state and federal investigations looking into his alleged failure to disclose income as well as his alleged role in support of a 2012 shadow campaign designed to undercut his chief Democratic rival for Congress. Rivera has never been charged with a crime and has said he did nothing wrong. But the revelations have been embarrassing. A former girlfriend, for instance, told prosecutors that Rivera recruited her to help with the shadow campaign and then helped her flee to Nicaragua — allegations denied by Rivera. Last month, a Florida ethics commission slapped Rivera with a $58,000 fine for routinely billing the state for travel and other expenses while paying himself back out of campaign accounts when he was a state legislator.
In fairness, of course, it's important to emphasize that Rubio isn't implicated in any of Rivera's many scandals. That said, as longtime readers may recall
, Rubio's close ties to Rivera have been unsettling for many Republican insiders in Florida and D.C. Indeed, even after Rivera's scandals broke, Rubio hosted a fundraiser
for his friend and ally.
It hasn't helped that Rivera was accused of misusing campaign donations for personal use, while Rubio effectively admitted that he did the same thing, using a Republican Party credit card to purchase personal items. Rubio eventually conceded
the charges -- which included repairs to his family minivan -- "looks bad," adding, "I shouldn't have done it that way."
By some accounts
, Rubio's Rivera ties were an important point of concern to Mitt Romney's team when vetting potential 2012 running mates. Chris Cillizza noted
three years ago, "You can sum up Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's biggest impediment to being chosen vice president in two words: David Rivera."
Three years later, the concerns have not yet gone away.