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How Marco Rubio financed his way to the top

Marco Rubio was barely solvent as a young lawmaker climbing his way to the top post in the Florida House, but special interest donations and political perks allowed him to spend big money with little scrutiny.

About $600,000 in contributions was stowed in two inconspicuous political committees controlled by Rubio, now the Republican frontrunner for the U.S. Senate, and his wife. A Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times analysis of the expenses found:

• Rubio failed to disclose $34,000 in expenses — including $7,000 he paid himself — for one of the committees in 2003 and 2004, as required by state law.

• One committee paid relatives nearly $14,000 for what was incorrectly described to the IRS as "courier fees" and listed a nonexistent address for one of them. Another committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who was listed as the treasurer, much of it for "gas and meals."

• He billed more than $51,000 in unidentified "travel expenses'' to three different credit cards — nearly one-quarter of the committee's entire haul. Charges are not required to be itemized, but other lawmakers detailed almost all of their committee expenses.

Rubio's spending continued in 2005 when the Republican Party of Florida handed him a credit card to use at his own discretion. While serving as House speaker in 2007 and 2008, he charged thousands of dollars in restaurant tabs to the state party at the same time taxpayers were subsidizing his meals in Tallahassee.

Story here

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