April 28, 2015

For Marco Rubio, personal finances presented an opportunity and a curse

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Marco Rubio nearly quit politics.

He was so broke in 2001 that just as he began his ascent in the Florida House, he and his wife had to move in with her mother. Rubio decided to leave Tallahassee and practice law full-time.

He got in his car to think and wound up at Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables, where he had gotten married three years earlier. He knelt to pray. “Why had God allowed me to come so far only to let me fail?” he recounted in a 2012 memoir.

“I imagined telling my children someday that I had once been the majority whip of the Florida House but had lost my job and had to leave politics to make a living. … I left the church still worried, but resigned to accept whatever happened. On my way back to my mother-in-law’s house, my cellphone rang.”

A headhunter had a lead on a job at a Broward County law firm. The $93,000 salary allowed Rubio to move his family into their own home. And race ahead with his political career.

As a Republican presidential candidate, 43-year-old Rubio is portraying himself as someone who shares the struggles and aspirations of many Americans. It’s not just a line when he talks about crushing college loans; he has lived it. He has felt the squeeze of a mortgage and providing for four children.

Yet Rubio’s story also raises old criticisms that he has lacked personal fiscal discipline, got special financial favors and abused campaign funds. It reveals a career politician’s income growing in step with his rising clout in Tallahassee, including a $300,000 a year job at a law firm that arrived as he locked in the position as House speaker.

More here.

April 27, 2015

Here's the invitation to candidate Marco Rubio's first Miami fundraiser


Miami inviteNineteen days after declaring his 2016 Republican presidential candidacy, Sen. Marco Rubio will once again headline a political event in Miami: his first hometown campaign fundraiser.

On Sunday, longtime Rubio backers will gather at the Coral Gables home of Claudia and Bernie Navarro -- where Rubio's friends and family met the day before his April 13 announcement -- and collect checks for the expensive race.

Organizing the reception are Irma and Norman Braman, the billionaire couple expected to pour a five-figure sum into Rubio's campaign, as well as Rubio backers Marile and Jorge Luis Lopez; former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner; Lourdes Castillo and Leoncio de la Pena, and Ronit and Steve Waserstein.

To be an event "chairman," donors must raise (or contribute) $25,000. That number drops down to $2,700 to "host" and $1,000 to snap photos with Rubio.

Marco Rubio visits California, home to climate change group that calls him out as 'denier'

via @learyreports

With Marco Rubio in California for fundraising Monday and Tuesday, an environmental group is seeking to call attention to his doubts about man's contribution to climate change.

"Rubio and his fellow Republican science-deniers are wrong. We know that we don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy—and California serves as a model for the nation of how we can address climate change and prosper while doing it," NextGen Climate said in a release, offering to "meet" with Rubio and educate him.

"It’s no surprise that Rubio is a climate change denier, given that he is trying to win financial support from Big Oil and special interests, like the Koch Brothers. ... It’s time to start accepting the facts and lay out a meaningful plan to tackle climate change. Presidential hopefuls need to demonstrate bold leadership and tell voters their plan for achieving a healthier and more prosperous clean energy future for our children and the next generation."

Rubio has said the climate is always changing but he doubts scientific evidence that humans are contributing. He said on Face the Nation recently that a cap-and-trade style program to curb emissions would wreck the economy. PolitiFact evaluated that claim and found it False.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 25, 2015

Marco Rubio: Governors aren't ready for presidency on Day One

From Bloomberg:

Governors running for the presidency including, potentially, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are inherently inferior because they lack the foreign policy experience held by members of Congress, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said Saturday in Iowa.

“Governors can certainly read about foreign policy in briefings, and meet with experts, but there is no way they'll be ready on day one to manage U.S. foreign policy because the learning curve alone would take a number of years, and you see that reflected in the history of the presidency,” the Republican presidential candidate told reporters and editors for the Des Moines Register.

What about Ronald Reagan, a former governor and Republican icon?

“Ronald Reagan was someone, first of all, that had spent a number of years talking about foreign policy, more than a dozen years after he left the governorship of the state of California, he dedicated to foreign policy,” Rubio said. “He also faced a pretty straightforward threat, and that was the expansion of Soviet-style Communism at the expense of U.S. influence.” Although, Rubio added, Reagan “faced some other threats like the Iranian hostage crisis.”

More here.

April 24, 2015

The careful line Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush walk on immigration reform


NASHUA, N.H. -- Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have turned explaining their similar positions on immigration reform into a political art form.

Secure the border, they grovel to conservatives worried about “amnesty.” Get a better grip on people come into the country legally with visas, in case they overstay them. Give legal priority to immigrants who can contribute to the economy. Then — and only then! — should the U.S. grant legal status to many of the nearly 11 million people inside the country without authorization.

“We need to control our border first of all,” Bush said last week at a political breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“The American people, they understand we have an issue that has to be confronted,” Rubio said at a Manchester house party a few hours later. “But they’re not willing to do it or even talk about it until you show them — not tell them, you better show them — that illegal immigration is under control.”

That’s what grass-roots Republican voters want to hear. But they remain skeptical of Rubio and Bush, at least in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary next year after the Iowa caucuses. Neither state is known for its demographic diversity: The population of both states is more than 93 percent white in both states, according to the U.S. Census, and only 5 percent of residents are foreign-born.

Immigration presents a challenge for Bush, the former Florida governor who has yet to declare his 2016 presidential candidacy, and Rubio, the U.S. senator who’s already running. Both back granting legal status to the nearly 11 million people already in the country illegally.

More here.

Marco Rubio's claim about cap and trade and the economy

It’s no secret that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is skeptical of human-caused climate change. While he’s unsure of the effect humans have on the climate, Rubio is certain that addressing the problem would wreck the economy.

"If we do the things they want us to do, cap and trade, you name it, how much will that change the pace of climates change vs. how much will it cost to our economy?" Rubio asked rhetorically on CBS’ Face the Nation April 19. "Scientists can't tell us what impact it would have on reversing these changes. But I can tell you with certainty it would have a devastating impact on our economy."

We wondered about Rubio’s claim that it’s a "certainty" that cap and trade would "devastate" the economy.

Rubio has a point in that scientists can’t say exactly how much of an effect cap and trade would have on climate change trends. But predictions about cap and trade on the economy carry the same level of uncertainty -- a lot depends on the specifics of the policy. Additionally, most estimations show a modest -- rather than "devastating" -- impact.

See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found and Rubio's Truth-O-Meter record.

April 23, 2015

Iranian missiles and the eastern U.S.: How big a threat?

Everyone’s been talking about the potential nuclear deal with Iran. Largely absent in the discussion, however, is the question of whether Iran could actually aim one at the United States’ homeland. During a recent gathering of potential Republican presidential candidates in in New Hampshire, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took that issue head-on.

"Iran is developing long-range rockets that will at some point in less than a decade be capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States," Rubio said at the New Hampshire Republican Party Leadership Summit in Nashua, N.H., on April 17, 2015.

We wondered whether Rubio’s rather alarming projection was supported by publicly available evidence. We decided that we couldn’t put it to the Truth-O-Meter because it depends on intelligence we don’t have access to, and because it involves a prediction -- a type of claim PolitiFact doesn’t rate.

However, in discussions with experts, we found that the scenario Rubio laid out is plausible, if also far from a certainty. Turn to PolitiFact Florida to see what fact-checker Louis Jacobson found and see Rubio's Truth-O-Meter record.

April 22, 2015

Fanjul family to host Marco Rubio fundraiser in West Palm Beach


Rubio invite
A series of Florida fundraising receptions to benefit U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential bid kick off Friday with a West Palm Beach luncheon that features deep-pocketed donors.

The event will be headlined by two generations of the Fanjul family, the Cuban-American sugar barons, and also include GOP fundraiser Gay Gaines, an early backer of Rubio's 2010 Senate bid.

Also listed as part of "host committee" are former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who attended Rubio's campaign launch in Miami last week; former Palm Beach Town Councilman Bill Diamond and former Mitt Romney fundraisers Darlene and Jerry Jordan, among others.

Fact-checking Rick Scott and Marco Rubio on sea-level rise, climate change

With President Barack Obama scheduled to visit the Everglades for Earth Day, it seems like a good day to look back at some of PolitiFact Florida’s fact-checks about climate change and the environment including claims by or about Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.

Here are a few from our archives:

Scott said during an October debate "We have spent $350 million to deal with sea-level rise" in the Miami area and "hundreds of millions dollars to deal with coral reefs."

Scott was exaggerating. The state has spent $100 million to help the Keys upgrade to a sewer system, which should improve water quality -- a benefit for coral reefs. But Scott omitted that it was under Gov. Charlie Crist that the Legislature passed a law paving the way for the money. For the sea-level rise portion of his claim, his spokesman pointed to a variety of projects that related to flood mitigation or beach protection. While those are worthy projects, they don’t address future sea-level rise. We rated that claim Mostly False.

Scott said during his 2014 State of the State speech that "we have invested record funding in protecting our environment." That’s not correct. Scott’s spokesman said that he was referring to his "record" proposal to fund springs protection. The budget for the state Department of Environmental Protection was not a record under Scott. We rated the claim False.

We have also rated several of Scott’s promises related to the environment including about oil drilling, environmental penalties and springs restoration.

In the spring of 2014, scientists issued reports warning about climate change.

Just a day before those reports were released, Rubio said, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." (That wasn’t the first time that Rubio had disputed the basic science of climate change.)

A May 2013 report analyzing all scientific papers that address the causes of climate change showed 97.1 percent of scientists’ findings that took a position agree that there’s been a negative human impact on the atmosphere. We rated Rubio’s statement False.

April 21, 2015

Marco Rubio refunds excessive campaign contributions

From Florida Bulldog:

Two days before he officially announced his run for the presidency last week, Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign disclosed that it had refunded more than $23,000 in excessive contributions it previously had accepted.

Another $27,000 in over-the-limit contributions originally raised to boost Republican Rubio for a Senate primary election fight was either reclassified for use in the 2016 general election, or applied to the spouses of donors who gave more than the $2,600 maximum per election allowed by federal law, federal election records show.

That $50,000 in refunds, reclassifications and reassignments were in response to violation notices sent by the Federal Election Commission to the campaign after each of its quarterly financial report filings in 2014.

In four April 11 response letters, Rubio campaign assistant treasurer Lisa Lisker said that Rubio’s campaign committee — recently renamed Marco Rubio for President — and the separate Rubio Victory PAC had not tracked excessive contributions or duplicate entries.

More here.