Is all of this LEGAL? — Specifics added, 2/16

By “this,” I mean this.  I don’t know, but it sounds to me like some of it is not.  

Wish I could ask Chris Christie, a former (very high-profile) U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (2001-2008).  He would know.  

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UPDATE:  In light of the comments to this post, saying that Florida law allows the type of influence-peddling that Rubio has engaged in (presumably, unless there’s some overt quid pro quo)–something that the article I linked to does make clear–I want to clarify what I think may be illegal (i.e., violate federal law, thus my reference to Chris Christie). From the article:

For Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, more government did indeed create more opportunities. As the Tampa Bay Times reported during his U.S. Senate run in 2010, it’s hard to determine with Rubio where politics stops and the private begins:

As Rubio climbed the ranks, he began to use little-noticed political committees to fund his travel and other expenses and later had a Republican Party of Florida credit card.

What emerged, records show, is a pattern of blending personal and political spending. Over and over again Rubio proved sloppy, at best, in complying with disclosure requirements.

Virtually broke, the 31-year-old lawmaker began campaigning to be House speaker in 2003 and created a political committee — Floridians for Conservative Leadership — to help elect other Republican candidates and curry their support.

With his wife serving as treasurer, Rubio did not wait for the state to authorize the committee before accepting campaign donations.

The committee listed its address as Rubio’s home, a modest place he and his wife bought in West Miami in 2002, but reported spending nearly $85,000 in office and operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.

Over 18 months, nearly $90,000 went for political consultants, $51,000 went for credit card payments and $4,000 went to other candidates. That’s less than the $5,700 that went to his wife, Jeanette, much of it for “gas and meals.” (Mrs. Rubio does not work and the couple file joint tax returns.)

Virtually broke, the 31-year-old lawmaker began campaigning to be House speaker in 2003 and created a political committee — Floridians for Conservative Leadership — to help elect other Republican candidates and curry their support.

With his wife serving as treasurer, Rubio did not wait for the state to authorize the committee before accepting campaign donations.

The committee listed its address as Rubio’s home, a modest place he and his wife bought in West Miami in 2002, but reported spending nearly $85,000 in office and operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.

Over 18 months, nearly $90,000 went for political consultants, $51,000 went for credit card payments and $4,000 went to other candidates. That’s less than the $5,700 that went to his wife, Jeanette, much of it for “gas and meals.” (Mrs. Rubio does not work and the couple file joint tax returns.)

Some of this sounds to me like taxable (but probably undeclared) income for him and his wife, beyond just his wife’s salary and actual expenses related to the PAC.  The PAC also sounds like it was largely a fraud; its stated purpose was to help elect other Republicans to the state legislature, and I guess some of the consulting was used by or for other candidates, although the article doesn’t make that clear, but just a tiny percentage of the donations were given to other candidates.

But also, two other things the article mentions sound like they violate federal law:

  • Rubio earmarked money to Florida International University and later got an unadvertised job as a part-time professor at the school. The former school president, Mitch Maidique, said Rubio was “worth every penny.”

  • After appropriating millions of dollars to Miami Children’s and Jackson Memorial Hospitals, Rubio formed a lobby shop and got contracts with the hospitals.

Some of these things sound like things that Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife were formally charged with yesterday, albeit on a much quieter scale, and some of the other things sound similar in nature, if not scale, to what former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted of.  

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