GOP Credit Card Scandal Draws Federal Attention

Tampa Tribune columnist William March, far right, questions Marco Rubio at a Tampa political event this week.
Tampa Tribune columnist William March, far right, questions Marco Rubio at a Tampa political event this week.
TAMPA (2010-4-21) -

Two of the state's largest newspapers say federal investigators are looking into the credit card charges of top Florida Republicans. At issue is whether politicians such as Marco Rubio used political money for personal expenses without disclosing it.

The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald report federal investigators are pouring over the financial forms and tax filings of former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio and two former executives with the Republican Party of Florida. It’s a preliminary examination, reportedly, to see if a full investigation is warranted.

The question is whether Rubio and other Republican leaders used their state GOP credit cards for personal expenses without reimbursing the state party or declaring the money as income.

Tampa Tribune political reporter William March said the scenario raises significant ethical issues because there are laws that prevent lobbyists from giving large gifts to politicians.

“If those things are allowed, what it means is that donors are putting money straight into the pockets of politicians for those politicians’ personal benefits,” March said. “It’s similar in some ways to what you could call a bribe.”

March said only the investigators really know what’s going on with the query. But he noted that no one has challenged the other stories these newspapers have done about the GOP credit card scandal.

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