Instead of nominating Marco Rubio, the Republicans should just cut out the pretense and nominate his doppelgänger: Charlie McCarthy
Bill Clinton had a line during his 1992 campaign that he said, mantra-like, so often in fact that eventually it lost its meaning and was just a cringe-inducing song-like chorus. The line, the slogan, was, “People who work hard and play by the rules.” It was—until he repeated it to a point well beyond when people actually would think of its meaning when they heard it, rather than just cringe or role their eyes—a very effective campaign mantra and also one that said something meaningful. And it’s a line that I’ve thought of repeatedly since Thursday night’s debate.
Marco Rubio neither works hard nor plays by the rules. Except, of course, the rules that politicians these days play by, although Rubio has throughout his political career—which is to say, virtually throughout his adult life once he graduated from law school—been jaw-droppingly adept at it, finding two billionaires to sponsor his political career and shore up his personal finances. One of them is human, the other is a corporate person.
The corporate person is GEO Group, the second-largest private, for-profit prison company in the United States—is there another country that has a private-prisons industry? I have no idea—and whose company’s only client is government entities. Including the State of Florida, thanks to Rubio during his tenure as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (of billionaires, human and corporate). The other is Miami billionaire Norman Braman.
A common refrain about Rubio is that he’s a man in a hurry. A refrain that I trust is about to become common is that he also is a man on the take. Which he is. Pure and simple. This spade needs to be called a spade, and will be, whether it’s Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—or a massive swell from the news media of the sort that, finally, is occurring in the wake of Wednesday’s debate calling all but one member of the entire cast (Kasich was the exception) grifters, scam artists, fraudsters, liars on a truly grand scale—that begins it loudly enough to be heard.
Regarding GEO-Group-as-Rubio-family-financier, the first article about it (to my knowledge) in a major national publication was by Staten Island-based freelance writer Michael Cohen published in the Washington Post on April 28 of this year. Its title is “How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about.” Its subtitle is “Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries.” Among its paragraphs about Rubio is this one:
Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)
The statute of limitations has run on potential public corruption charges under the federal criminal code. But many public officials have been charged and convicted for conduct that bears, let’s just say, a resemblance to Rubio’s. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell would dispute that his was one such case, since McDonnell contends that when he pushed that vitamin supplement in exchange for $165,000 (or whatever the amount was) in gifts and sweetheart loans, he did so not in his official capacity but as a private individual.
Then there is the curious case of Norman Braman, Florida tax policy when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House, and Rubio’s job teaching Political Science at a Florida public university courtesy of a newly created and paid for in full by Braman after Rubio left the Florida House in order to run full-time for the U.S. Senate. (Full time except for that adjunct teaching position, of course.) In an article published Monday on Alternet, Lou Dubose of the Washington Spectator summarized the details as revealed earlier by The New York Times:
In an interview with The New York Times, the senator described Norman Braman, a Miami billionaire who once owned the Philadelphia Eagles and now sells BMWs, Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs, Audis and Bugatis, as “a father figure who had given him advice on everything, from what books to read to how to manage a staff.”
Braman, the Times reported, gave Rubio more than advice.
He contributed $255,000 to an advocacy group Rubio formed to lobby for one of his signature-mark initiatives while he was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives: a dramatic reduction of property taxes and increase in the state sales tax.
When Rubio left state government, he got a job teaching at Florida International University, committing to raise his salary from private donors. Braman contributed $100,000 to the university, earmarked for Rubio’s salary.
Braman donated to Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign, and hired Rubio as a lawyer for seven months while he campaigned. He hired Rubio’s wife, and her company, to work for his charitable foundation. And he is reported to have committed $10 million to Rubio’s presidential campaign.
The New York Times reporters suggested that Rubio’s involvement with Braman will lead to a more thorough examination of the Florida Senator’s personal finances as the presidential campaign continues.
Dubose’s article is titled “Marco Rubio’s Financial Messes” and subtitled “Fishy financials don’t make for a great campaign.” And, really, they don’t.
Rubio’s debate riposte—not about any of this, which he wasn’t asked about, but to a question about problems with his and his wife’s handling of their family’s cash flow—was that, well, he unlike Bush and Trump comes from a family of very modest means, and as an adult he received no financial assistance from his parents. This presumably will do double duty as a response to questions about what the conduct that many people, I suspect, will view as amounting to public corruption. But it’s a line that will continue to work only until someone other than me—to reiterate, e.g., Trump, Sanders, Clinton, or journalists—points out that many, many people who come from families of very modest means actually do work hard and do play by the rules.
Many of them, like Rubio’s mother, whom he mentioned during the debate in reference to Medicare and Social Security—he said she relies on them—are weak as people. So, too, is he, by his own admission, for allowing his mother to rely on those federal programs rather than supporting her, including paying her healthcare costs. Like people did in the old days. I was unaware of this admission by him, and in fact was unaware that he thinks Medicare and Social Security weaken us as people, until I read Steve Benen’s post yesterday on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC blog (h/t Paul Waldman):
Later, the far-right Floridian referenced entitlements – Rubio is on record condemning Medicare and Social Security for “weakening us as a people” – and said to laughter, “Nothing has to change for current beneficiaries. My mother is on Medicare and Social Security. I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.”
That same record (video, actually) includes, specifically, Rubio’s statement that Medicare and Social Security have made us as a people lazy.
It will be a relief to many that as long as Mrs. Rubio is alive, Medicare and Social Security will be safe under a Rubio presidency. Enabling the lazy Rubio to avoid having to support her.
The Democrats can only hope that Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee for president. Our current campaign finance system reduces most American politicians to ventriloquists’ puppets, but Rubio is unmistakably Charlie McCarthy reincarnate. To the point of comedy. Like the original Charlie McCarthy. Next time you hear or see him speak, just think of how comfortably he would fit on Edgar Bergen’s lap.*
A week or two ago I read—I don’t remember where—that there is a Super PAC tied to Rubio that has a huge amount of funding but only one donor, whose identity is anonymous. Rubio indeed would fit perfectly on Edgar Bergen’s lap, but here’s betting that that donor isn’t Edgar Bergen.
*Link to Paul Krugman’s blog post from this morning titled “Policy and Character” added. 10/30 at 11:01 p.m.
no question but that Rubio’s financial connections you detail should be publicized, but why do they make him a liar?
Liar? Where did I call him a liar? I dare you to find any place in my post where I call Marco Rubio a liar.
Okay, I deleted those two sentences after I read your comment and realized that they didn’t belong in this post. I cut-and-pasted them from an earlier draft that also discussed Rubio’s bald lies in that debate. But in the draft I ended up posting, I just linked to a few terrific articles about it. Krugman’s column today, Brian Beutler’s in the New Republic, and Catherine Rampell’s in the Washington Post. Although all of those articles are about the entire Repub field, not just Rubio. But Rubio is the one who the media said did such a terrific job in the debate.
I mean, how sick.
If you don’t correct the title , I’m going to have to get myself a new handle. It’s bad enough already that the names sound alike.
I’d encourage everyone from now on to read my handle as being pronounced ” Mark-OH!! ” , so as to avoid associating me , in any way , with that venal slimeball.
Oooooops. Just corrected it.
Yikes. And … my apologies, Marko.
The Norman Braman stuff is different, but the prison corporation donating to his campaign? That’s America. One of the reasons we got to this point is the media has no idea how to distinguish between money that goes into a politician’s pocket and money that goes to his campaign, in sweeping language that makes Capitol Hill sound like Tammany Hall. (If you’re response is “It is like Tammany Hall!” that would make me really quite sad. Because you’re smart and it’s not.)
“On the take” means a bribe or a kickback. Were legislators in California bribed by big bicycle? Because electric bike manufactures sure as shit made a lot of donations to get a law passed 3 weeks ago:
“The California law is the first significant victory for an industry lobbying effort that was launched early this year by the e-bike committee of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, and soon joined by PeopleForBikes and the California Bicycle Coalition, or CalBike.”
To use just one example – A major bank pumps loads of money into your congressional campaigns ( not your pockets , mind you ) over multiple election cycles as your influence on financial issues increases. You become so good , in fact , that when you lose an election – voila! , there’s a nice cushy job waiting for you at that very bank , at nosebleed levels of compensation.
Some time later , you’re offered a top position at one of the gov’t finance sector regulatory agencies. That same bank has made the decision to go back to gov’t very easy for you , since you’ll get a huge exit bonus as a result of landing that important regulatory position.
So , no , it’s not like Tammany Hall. It’s worse , by a long shot.
Well, at least the electric bike industry isn’t getting a $110 million contract from the state that includes a guarantee of 90% capacity of electric bike riders. Unlike Florida’s for-profit prison contract, which has a 90%-capacity clause. Law and order isn’t free, you know.
You forgot to make clear, Marko, what exactly that bank would be paying for with that exit bonus. If you get my drift.
Oh , so do you suspect that bank might be expecting kid-glove treatment from that regulatory agency that their ex-employee now heads , simply because of that multi-multi-million$ exit bonus ?
Some would say it would be presumptuous to harbor that suspicion. I’d say it would be naive not to.
Lets all face the fact Marco Rubio is not presidential material. I think if I read correctly this morning in the Daily Kos. com they did call him a liar. Please go see and read that story about his personal financial situation . This guy to me is too young and inexperienced that makes him in my minds eye very unpresidential material. He need much more experience in lying and should take lessons from the Clintons.
I beg to differ, William. It sure looks like Rubio has had loads of experience lying. And loads of experience doing shady things under the radar.
The radar now has him in its sights. Can’t wait till he gets the nomination and the Dems start running ads with with adult children of bartenders, maids and other blue collar workers, who have mortgages, retirement funds and college tuition funds without having exchanged government favors for salaries for themselves and their spouses paid by billionaires, and without arranging for nine-figure government contracts in exchange for massive financial but quiet political support, and who didn’t improperly use an organization’s credit card for personal travel and home-improvement projects. Or who get by without luxuries or retirement funds or college tuition funds, because their jobs don’t pay enough to allow it.
One thing that stuck me about the my-father-was-a-bartender excuse is how really demeaning of people who come from working class families it is. If you’re from a working class family, you’re entitied to act unethically because, y’know, how else can you support your family in style?
Another thing that struck me is something really obvious: That Rubio wants to further undermine collective bargaining, is against raising the minimum wage, and wants to end government assistance in making healthcare insurance available. Because those things make us weak as people, see.
Have you ever met Joe Crowley of Queens? Is that what you think he is like? Basically Phil Gramm with a better accent?
Objection. Not responsive. Why not just hate Rubio for supporting for-profit prisions? As a lawyer, I think there is honor in representing your client’s interests, even horrible clients. What’s horrible are his policies.
@Both of you
Tom Wheeler, former cable lobbyest was brought in and destroyed net neutrality, because Obama got bought off?
I realize it’s easier to just be cynical about everything. But please get over the notion that the quality of being depressing is evidence of an idea being correct.
Whenever you wonder why, after decades, “The Left” has made no progress is bringing down Neo-Liberalism, return here, look in the mirror, and say “Oh yeah. It’s because our critique endorses both the faulty assumption at the core of Neo-liberalism and the faulty method, only to dispute the different results that come from one side valuing freedom and the other side valuing equality.”
Neo-liberalism is wrong from jump street because they misread Smith as “proving” that economic motivations are pre-eminent in human behavior. Their method, then, is to describe the world and it’s people based on pure conjecture and steadfastly refuse to actually find out how people behave and why they behave that way.
Thanks to Marx, the dominant critique of Neo-liberalism starts by conceding the argument entirely, agreeing that human behavior, in the aggregate, can be best understood with a laser like focus on economic motivations. The lefty imagines himself a man of the people, but still thinks it’s ok to reason based entirely on hypotheticals about how we “know” people behave.
In conservative comment threads, assholes assert that black people do a terrible job raising their children because institutional racism guarantees there will be no returns to additional effort, i.e., their children will fail to earn a lot of money no matter how they are raised.
Here in a liberal comment thread, Marco Rubio (and indeed all American politicians) are treated as if campaign donations are sought because he is greedy, and that greed, therefore determines his policy positions.
Neoliberalism lives on because Marxists agree with every important aspect of their thinking, only to disagree with the result.
I have no idea what you’re babbling about, Thornton, in your second comment—I can’t follow it—so I won’t try to respond. But I’m curious about the basis for your claim in your first comment that Rubio represented GEO as an attorney. To my knowledge, he didn’t, openly anyway.
I’m also curious about why you think it was mere coincidence that Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO trust fund, and then arranged as speaker of the House for the State of Florida to suddenly hire a private for-profit company to operate the state’s prisons, on property owned by this company.
I’m also wondering, even if you are not, where the money came from for Rubio to hire this economic consultant. And why he chose this particular economic consultant, who was a trustee for this private for-profit prisons company. There was no rightwing economics professor available for him to hire?
In other words, counsel: Objection overruled.