Will Crist attack on Rubio backfire? Update: Why did the Herald rewrite the story?

posted at 12:55 pm on February 26, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Charlie Crist finally decided to start fighting back against Marco Rubio, perhaps a little late in the game, since Rubio has taken a commanding lead in the polls.  A leak of Florida Republican Party bookkeeping showed that Rubio had used his GOP credit card for some personal purchases, which Crist’s allies took delight in itemizing.  However, the remarkable lack of plausible deniability in the sourcing leads the Miami Herald to ask whether Crist may have aimed a peashooter at Rubio only to hit himself with it instead:

Someone very close to Gov. Charlie Crist clearly was trying to damage Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign by leaking Republican Party American Express records that showed some personal expenses among Rubio’s legitimate party charges.

But the plan may backfire.

Republican voters will decide whether an expensive haircut, some groceries, a wine store purchase and other charges put on the party card are worse than leaking confidential party records in a political attack against another Republican.

“In my mind, disloyalty of leaking documents to the press of a selected political opponent is reprehensible,” said David Johnson, a Tallahassee-based Republican political consultant who once served as the party’s executive director.

Johnson added that the leaked records themselves aren’t very damaging to Rubio. The party charges don’t appear extravagant and Rubio said he paid more than $16,000 directly to American Express to cover personal charges.

Many people may wonder why Rubio charged personal items to the card in the first place.  That is not an uncommon practice in the business world, where managers get company credit cards and are expected to pay the bills themselves and get reimbursed only for legitimate business expenses.  That makes less sense for politicians, as Rubio is finding out this week, since expenses and reimbursements run afoul of campaign-finance laws — and internecine opponents digging for dirt.  Rubio should have used his own credit or debit card for personal purchases.  However, Rubio paid the bills for those purchases with his own money, which makes this something a little short of a scandal.

Instead, the scandal may fall on Crist’s shoulders.  The recent departure of two Crist allies from the top of the state Republican hierarchy makes the sourcing on this story pretty obvious:

But the story left unanswered who leaked the documents and why only 25 months’ worth were released when Rubio had a party card for nearly four years. A very small number of people had access to the statements, including recently departed Chairman Jim Greer and his executive director, Delmar Johnson. Both are Crist allies. Republican activists are angry that confidential party information was leaked, particularly as the party begins an audit to review spending under Greer’s leadership in order to rebound from stories of lavish spending on travel, meals and entertaining.

Speaking of Delmar Johnson, how did he use his party card?

Crist likes to point out that he never had a party card, but he was often at dinners and events with people who do, including Greer and Delmar Johnson, so there is no way of knowing what was purchased for him.

“The governor is the governor. He has people who do that,” said David Johnson, the political strategist. “When you have other people paying for it on their card, that’s just convenient.”

The Rubio campaign pointed out that his $110,000 party charges over 25 months are less than what Delmar Johnson charged in one month.

Crist wants to talk about full disclosure; let him produce the records of his aides with party cards and start comparing.  If he’s all about full transparency, then he’ll authorize the release of those records to match the transparency thrust upon Rubio.  If Crist refuses, then we’ll know he’s full of something, and certainly not transparency.

Update: The Miami Herald story has been extensively rewritten since I wrote this post.  Most of the excerpts above no longer appear in the article.  It would be interesting to know why they were removed.


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Will Crist attack on Rubio backfire?

Is water wet?

califcon on February 26, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Desperate times call for desperate measures…..heh Charlie.

SHARPTOOTH on February 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Will Crist attack on Rubio backfire?

Does Crist have “tanners aDICKtion” ?

jake-the-goose on February 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM

I’ve never before seen a circular firing squad made up of one man.

rbj on February 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Goodbye Crist, DLTDHYOTWO. Worst Governor and campaigner Evah.

Enoxo on February 26, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Choo Choo Charlie Crist had better be prepared for this thing to go KABLOOIE right in his tanned kisser.

pilamaye on February 26, 2010 at 1:05 PM

lemme guess….he purchased 100 Wonka bars on his card…?

still looking for the golden ticket?

ted c on February 26, 2010 at 1:06 PM

I’d like to know exactly when the charges were paid back. If it was within a few months of when they were charged or a few weeks of when they were disputed years and years ago, then this is a total non-story (except for the inconvenient leaks). If they were paid back yesterday then let’s talk.

Fred 2 on February 26, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Hahahaha

MobileVideoEngineer on February 26, 2010 at 1:07 PM

I just can’t forgive Crist for endorsing McCain in the Florida primary.

oldguy on February 26, 2010 at 1:09 PM

I think Crist’s insistence that he wasn’t about to leave the GOP is predicated on whether this ‘scandal’ grows any legs or not before May 2.

In other words, be ready for Charlie Crist (I).

Khorum on February 26, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Sorry Charlie, you are an oompa loompa douchebag, and a dirtbag scum.

OmahaConservative on February 26, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Ed–most companies prohibit the use of company credit cards to buy personal items. It’s a firing offense. That’s because the company has the obligation to pay if the employee doesn’t.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

needs to join the Dims, he is only just a RINO

grapeknutz on February 26, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Can you smell the desperation in the Crist camp?

Even money, Charlie pulls out of the race by the end of March, becomes and independent, or joins the Democrats.

The tea partiers and conservatives in the GOP are going to make Charlie pay for standing on stage and hugging Obama during the stimulus unveiling. Simple as that.

Spare me the “Rubio would have taken the money too” BS, he wasn’t on stage hugging and promoting the porkulus like Charlie was.

JohnBG on February 26, 2010 at 1:24 PM

It’s funny how this sounds so much like Palin/mcc’s campaign and what they thought she spent.How they are afraid of conservatives!:)

ohiobabe on February 26, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Way to go Crist. Well….at least you got a great tan out of it. Well sorta. You’re looking kind of orange julius these days.

capejasmine on February 26, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Ed–most companies prohibit the use of company credit cards to buy personal items. It’s a firing offense. That’s because the company has the obligation to pay if the employee doesn’t.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

That wasn’t the case with the three global management consulting firms I’ve worked for. Employees are responsible for paying their credit card bill and only submit legitimate business expenses for reimbursement. The remainder was the employee’s expense and responsibility.

txag92 on February 26, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

There are usually different rules for the avg schlub who has access to the card and an officer. The officers get a lot more leeway in these types of things. I doubt you’ve worked with many companies who have a corporate card.

lorien1973 on February 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM

At Rubio/Crist Debate

Rubio: Gov Christ, did you order the Code Orange?!
Moderator: You don’t have to answer that question!
Crist: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
Rubio: I think I’m entitled.
Crist: You want answers?
Rubio: I want the truth!
Crist: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that plays politics, and that world needs RINOs. Who’s gonna do it? You? Your South Carolina pal, Jim DeMint? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for conservatism and you curse the RINOs. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that putting my arms around Obama and his stimulus, while tragic, probably saved or created jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves or creates job! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at tea parties, you want me in DC! You need me in DC! We use words like Bi-partisanship, Deal Making, Flip Floping. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent playing politics. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very stimulus funds that I proudly accepted, and then questions the manner in which I provide them! I would rather you just said “Thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you forget about your credit card records, and withdraw from the primary. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!
Rubio: Did you order the Code Orange?
Crist: I did the job that—
Rubio: Did you order the Code Orange?
Crist: You’re goddamn right I did!

red winger on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I’m not certain if it will backfire, but I don’t think it will have any appreciable negative impact on Rubio. It should serve as a lesson to Rubio that nobody in the GOP is to be trusted fully and he has to watch his own back, even in supposedly safe waters.

SKYFOX on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Years ago when we lived in south Florida, the only reliable writer the Miami Herald had was Dave Barry. I doubt if things have changed.

oldleprechaun on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

If he paid back the charges, there is no controversy. On the other hand, were his reimbursements exact and timely? If not, he’s not as smart as he sounds on TV. In addition, it is not smart at all to put personal charges on a “company card.” Why do it? It may backfire on Crist, but it’s still dispiriting.

rrpjr on February 26, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Ed–most companies prohibit the use of company credit cards to buy personal items. It’s a firing offense. That’s because the company has the obligation to pay if the employee doesn’t.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

That wasn’t the case with the three global management consulting firms I’ve worked for. Employees are responsible for paying their credit card bill and only submit legitimate business expenses for reimbursement. The remainder was the employee’s expense and responsibility.

txag92 on February 26, 2010 at 1:29 PM

–If it’s a real company card, then the company is obligated to make the payment if you don’t, even though you’re the one who’s name is on the card. I’ve negotiated agreements with American Express and VISA and that’s the way it works. And I’ve worked in five large ($1 billion+ revenue) companies and none of them allowed personal expenses to be billed to company credit cards for that reason.

If you are using your own credit card, it’s a different story, txag92. Were you using a personal credit card or a company-provided credit card?

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:35 PM

I doubt if things have changed.

oldleprechaun on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I think Dave Barry retired, so something changed.

lorien1973 on February 26, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

OT: Motorola thinking of shutting down Libertyville facility. My old stomping grounds.

WashJeff on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM
There are usually different rules for the avg schlub who has access to the card and an officer. The officers get a lot more leeway in these types of things. I doubt you’ve worked with many companies who have a corporate card.

lorien1973 on February 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM

–See above. I have and I’ve been an officer at most of those companies. The official rules are no different if it is a company credit card that’s involved.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Update: The Miami Herald story has been extensively rewritten since I wrote this post. Most of the excerpts above no longer appear in the article. It would be interesting to know why they were removed.

Is the new story more critical of Rubio?

rbj on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Wow down the memory hole goes the stuff that makes the Dems look bad. Who ever says the media isn’t in bed with Democrats must be drinking their bong water too often.

Neo on February 26, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM
OT: Motorola thinking of shutting down Libertyville facility. My old stomping grounds.

WashJeff on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM

–Mine, too. Too bad to heard it, but not surprising given the apparent move of cellular to California (and lorien, I was an officer (along with about 450 others) at Motorola, which is one of the companies I mentioned).

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said Tuesday that “we have not announced any plans to make changes to our headquarters and we expect to continue to have a meaningful presence in Chicago.”

–Yeah, WashJeff, the old “meaningful presence” cr*p. That could easily be satisfied by a part of whatever remains in the rest of Motorola in Schaumburg.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Update: The Miami Herald story has been extensively rewritten since I wrote this post. Most of the excerpts above no longer appear in the article. It would be interesting to know why they were removed.

We really shouldn’t have to be asking that question. There should be a clear explanation as to when and why the article was changed. When are newspaper folks going to learn not to stealth-edit on-line articles? It’s unethical as far as I’m concerned, and they always get caught.

forest on February 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM

oldleprechaun on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Not a bit.

T.D.D. on February 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Rubio: Did you order the Code Orange?
Crist: You’re goddamn right I did!

red winger on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Golf-claps!

JohnBG on February 26, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Yeah, WashJeff, the old “meaningful presence” cr*p. That could easily be satisfied by a part of whatever remains in the rest of Motorola in Schaumburg.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

It sounds like they are gone from LIbertyville. The cellular company will be a separate concern soon. I would guess the Schaumburg campus is that all will remain of Mot when the breakup is complete.

I wonder if it will be cheaper for Mot to walk away from the buildings than rather pay the property taxes (Libertyville and Arlington Heights)?

WashJeff on February 26, 2010 at 1:46 PM

–If it’s a real company card, then the company is obligated to make the payment if you don’t, even though you’re the one who’s name is on the card. I’ve negotiated agreements with American Express and VISA and that’s the way it works. And I’ve worked in five large ($1 billion+ revenue) companies and none of them allowed personal expenses to be billed to company credit cards for that reason.

If you are using your own credit card, it’s a different story, txag92. Were you using a personal credit card or a company-provided credit card?

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:35 PM

All company provided. I was responsible for all personal expenses, even after leaving the firms.

txag92 on February 26, 2010 at 1:51 PM

I like the way Gov. Crist keeps welcoming Mr. Rubio to the NFL. I hope he remembers that while there are a few added protections for some players, anyone can get tackled.

Cindy Munford on February 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM

when one endorses McCain it hurts the endorser but Crist’s endorsement of McCain hurt McCain.

TheSitRep on February 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Excellent analysis. Crist is clearly the lightweight in FL.

Mark30339 on February 26, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I just can’t forgive Crist for endorsing McCain in the Florida primary.

oldguy on February 26, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Oh, brother.

JetBoy on February 26, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Well since Charlie Crist likes to leak personal information on people – I wonder if he’d like some leaked on him?

“Paging Mr. Foley … Mr. Mark Foley … “

HondaV65 on February 26, 2010 at 2:19 PM

The Washington Independent: Why Rand Paul is Winning

I challenge anyone to watch his closing comments, and still say they do not want Rand Paul in the senate.

Spathi on February 26, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Ethics in Florida. Doesn’t mention much if anything concerning buying items on the government credit cards and not paying them back. As long as you file everything via the credit card marking the end fo the Fiscal year.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do this in a political position. Crist is a idiot… and could be “next” if he keeps playing these games.

upinak on February 26, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Will it backfire? Let’s hope so. The sooner Rubio can turn his attention to the REAL opponent (liberalism), the better. Crist is just an annoyance at this point. Go away, old man. Go away.

NebCon on February 26, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Yeah, I’m naive, but what is it with people who have no honor, morals or integrity.

Someone once said that power attracts the corruptible.

Tom

marinetbryant on February 26, 2010 at 2:24 PM

red winger on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Nice. :-)

noblejones on February 26, 2010 at 2:32 PM

I challenge anyone to watch his closing comments, and still say they do not want Rand Paul in the senate.

Spathi on February 26, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Does he understand, unlike his father, that our economy will collapse if our military isn’t out there protecting trade?

(Also, he sounds like a progressive/socialist does about ‘social justice’ when he talks about abortion.)

Count to 10 on February 26, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

I wouldn’t expect/plan on Motorola staying in Schaumburg too much longer. Schaumburg just voted to start property tax and Motorola will be hit hard. Mayor Larson and company overreached with the Convention Center etc and with a 12% sales tax on food and drinks and a 10%+ sales tax on everything else, revenue hit the proverbial brick wall.

journeyintothewhirlwind on February 26, 2010 at 2:37 PM

The truth:

…I had an American Express card from February of 2005 through November of 2008. While that card is commonly referred to as an “RPOF AMEX,” it was in fact secured under my name, my Social Security number, and my personal credit through the Corporate Division of American Express. On its website, Americanexpress.com, the company clearly outlines the billing practices for the corporate card as follows:

“Each Cardmember submits an expense report in accordance with your company policy. Your company issues a single check to American Express for all authorized charges, streamlining your payment process. Cardmembers can pay American Express directly for unapproved and personal charges.”

Rubio should have used his own credit or debit card for personal purchases. – EM

He did. Peashooter indeed.

T J Green on February 26, 2010 at 2:43 PM

My old company wanted us to use their corporate cards for personal purchases, being they got the miles – but they gave you the reimbursement choice – if you wanted to.

Pretty simple accounting methods can determine what you bought and when.

Considering this is an internal “Rep scandal” before a Rep primary… Crist is done; being he has given up a 70 point swing in the past 12 months…

And Ed – I imagine the Miami Herald retracted or rewrote the article due to inconsistencies, speculation and the fact – Rubio is an American-Cuban from the Miami area.

Odie1941 on February 26, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

I wouldn’t expect/plan on Motorola staying in Schaumburg too much longer. Schaumburg just voted to start property tax and Motorola will be hit hard. Mayor Larson and company overreached with the Convention Center etc and with a 12% sales tax on food and drinks and a 10%+ sales tax on everything else, revenue hit the proverbial brick wall.

journeyintothewhirlwind on February 26, 2010 at 2:37 PM

–Sorry to hear it. Motorola and the Chicago area are going through some tough times. I do think Motorola will bounce back in the “asset-lite” mode, though. MOT always wanted to be more like Qualcomm (at least in the 90s) and now they’ve got 1/2 the chance to do so.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 3:00 PM

This one story keeps coming back to me. During the primaries in 2008, Florida got thrown out for the Democrats. They had moved their date up too far and were penalized. Technically, that is unconstitutional, but the problem was not addressed. Instead, Floridians were denied their vote, and this was all favorable to Barack Obama.

Why was the primary date moved up, and who did it?

WEST PALM BEACH – Governor Charlie Crist today signed House Bill 537 that will establish a paper trail for all votes cast in Florida elections. The election-reform legislation will provide optical scan machines for counties that do not already have them for Election Day voting and early voting sites. The legislation also changes the date of Florida’s presidential primary to the last Tuesday in January.

Wexler has moved on to running a nonprofit after a scandal about where he actually lived broke out. I wonder what Crist was promised for supporting Obama. It made no sense that he wanted to run for Senate, except to “go where the real money is,” as Rod Blagojevich put it.

chunderroad on February 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Ed–most companies prohibit the use of company credit cards to buy personal items. It’s a firing offense. That’s because the company has the obligation to pay if the employee doesn’t.

Jimbo3 on February 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I had an AE when I traveled for a top 100 company. The airfare was paid directly by the company, and all other charges, I had to write the check each month. If I failed to pay, then it was a firing offense. However, as convenient as it was to have that card and whip it out for personal expenses, I really didn’t like the company seeing my purchasing habits, even if they were all pretty standard stuff. So for privacy, I got my own AE card and got into their mileage program.

karenhasfreedom on February 26, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Hey Squid,

you out there? Got your ears on…hahahaha

jerrytbg on February 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Update: The Miami Herald story has been extensively rewritten since I wrote this post. Most of the excerpts above no longer appear in the article. It would be interesting to know why they were removed.

Be interesting to compare the original article with the revised one. I’m not surprised that the article has changed. The Crist campaign has a pretty savvy media cadre, they are not above planting “news” where they can. I noticed this same thing on FoxNews.com earlier this month. They posted this story overnight on Feb 9/10:

Could Crist Challenger’s Big-Time Endorsements Erode Grassroots Support?
By Stephen Clark

– FOXNews.com

Marco Rubio, the insurgent candidate seeking to upset establishment favorite Charlie Crist in the high-profile Republican primary for Florida’s Senate seat, is drawing so much support from GOP party leaders that grassroots activists may start finding it hard to tell who’s their man.

I pointed out in the comments that the article looked a lot like Crist campaign propaganda, and the next time I visited the site, it had changed to:

Updated February 10, 2010
Rubio Campaigns as Conservative’s Conservative in Race Against Conservative Crist

FOXNews.com

Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has closed a 30-point gap to challenge Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP primary polls for the U.S. Senate seat, but he’s not out of the woods yet

The original article, under Stephen Clark’s byline, failed to mention that that the Crist campaign spokesperson who was quoted taking a shot at Rubio’s endorsements was Foxnews correspondent Molly Henneberg’s sister.

The revised article gave Clark credit as a contributor, and made extensive corrections.

entropent on February 26, 2010 at 6:51 PM

The Miami Herald is a friend of the People’s Republic of the Left not a friend of the common man. MSM will have many stripes.

wepeople on February 26, 2010 at 7:55 PM

Ed,
Crist has been pushing for the release of all of these records since the questioning began under Greer. Rubio has been pushing hard against it. Now we know why.

Squid Shark on February 26, 2010 at 8:20 PM

And I’ve worked in five large ($1 billion+ revenue) companies and none of them allowed personal expenses to be billed to company credit cards for that reason.

Jimbo3

Those perks aren’t usually discussed with the janitorial staff.

xblade on February 26, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Dead link. The article has been pulled altogether.

exdeadhead on February 27, 2010 at 7:51 AM