FBI, IRS investigating Rubio, FL GOP?

posted at 7:19 am on April 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Just when the Republican primary in Florida couldn’t look any screwier, the feds have parachuted into the middle of it — and both candidates may have trouble coming their way.  The St. Petersburg Times reports this morning that the IRS and the FBI have opened investigations into irregularities involving the use of Republican Party credit cards, a scandal which dinged Marco Rubio but to this point hasn’t hurt his huge lead in the polls.  His opponent, Charlie Crist, might be celebrating — except that his own close advisers also appear to be caught in the probe as well:

Federal law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tallahassee, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are all involved in the inquiry, which grew out of the state investigation into former House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was indicted on criminal charges that he stashed $6 million in the state budget for an airplane hangar for a friend and campaign donor. …

Meanwhile, in a separate inquiry, the IRS is also looking at the tax records of at least three former party credit card holders — former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-state party chairman Jim Greer and ex-party executive director Delmar Johnson — to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry. …

The IRS opened the so-called “primary” investigation into Rubio, the leading Republican candidate for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, and the two former state GOP officials to see if there’s enough evidence to support a full-fledged criminal inquiry, according to a source familiar with the IRS examination.

Obviously, Rubio has the most to lose. Not only is he the front runner in this race, but he’s the one candidate whose name has been attached to the scandal. Running on a Tea Party platform of government reform and accountability, Rubio also has the most to lose in terms of public perception.

However, the inclusion of Greer and Johnson could be trouble for Crist as well. Both are Crist allies in the Florida GOP, and as the Miami Herald reported (briefly) in February, both accompanied Crist and reportedly covered Crist’s expenses with party cards. This could upend the entire Florida race, and more so in the general election than in the GOP primary.

That brings us to the timing of this investigation. It certainly looks interesting that the DoJ and Treasury decided to start a probe in the middle of a hotly-contested race for the US Senate, but to be fair, the scandal arose just a few weeks ago, thanks to leaks that had to have originated with current or former state GOP officials. Allegations of tax evasion and misuse of campaign funds should get law enforcement’s attention when they surface, and if that puts the state GOP in a bad position — assuming anything comes of these initial probes — the politics of it seem more controlled by the leakers than the DoJ and Treasury.

The Rubio campaign says that there is nothing to this at all and points to their reimbursements in covering their charges. However, it’s a lesson to candidates everywhere to handle their own business with their own cards, and for political parties to tightly control party funds.

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Ive seen convictions for as low as 6K and as high as 120K.

Squid Shark on April 21, 2010 at 10:23 AM

And, please note, I’m not arguing for Rubio here, but against what seems to me to be a shady, politically motivated investigation.

I don’t live in FL and don’t know Rubio or Christ’s pasts, but do note that during this campaign, where I’ve paid attention, Christ seems little better than Spector of today. Rubio may be as bad and corrupt as you say, but Christ doesn’t seem like much of a win for conservatives. However, if it was Christ or a democrat, I would vote Christ.

Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 10:38 AM

The only analogy I used Palin for here is the blind, closed-to-criticize support she has…same with Rubio, but I assume they’re the same supporters all around. That’s all.

And for the record, I have never, ever wished Palin “ill will”. Not even close. That’s very disingenuous of you to even suggest that.

JetBoy on April 21, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Wrong. Rubio is well known in Florida, namely the Miami area, where he became State rep at 27…

Comparing Palin’s national recognition to Rubios is myopic.

Just because you didnt know who Rubio was until 3 months ago, dont assume willfull ignorance of others.

There is a reason why Charilie lost 75 points in 6 months to Rubio – within Florida polls.

Factor in Crist’s Obama love… and with the added “bonus” of depleting NASA and other military projects here in Florida… Crist is dead in the water, regardless of inane “polls” claiming an Indy run would seal victory… ain’t going to happen.

Odie1941 on April 21, 2010 at 10:41 AM

I wouldn’t touch this blog post with a ten-foot pole.

But, you can bet, the Leftards will make hay with it.. You can already see it in the comments.

That’s one of the things that infuriates me with this blog.

There’s an election in the balance.. You seem to forget that.

franksalterego on April 21, 2010 at 10:41 AM

franksalterego on April 21, 2010 at 10:41 AM

So what, we are suppose to be afraid to talk? Please. Squid Shark and I agreed to vote for the winner of the primary a long time ago, regardless of the outcome. That was before the Independent thing came up but stop worrying about the free exchange of opinions.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Hmmmm….I thought with the election of o,the hate from the left would disappear!:) Guess he hasn’t fulfilled all their dreams yet.

ohiobabe on April 21, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 10:47 AM

You can voice your opinion all day long… Too bad, the post wasn’t about opinions.

It was about allegations.. Without any facts.

franksalterego on April 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Another member of Crist’s campaign, Rep. Tom Grady, has jumped ship due to the fact that Crist website has curiously dropped all reference to Crist being a Republican. Grady was Crist regional campaign manager.

Here is Grady’s letter to Crist:

Dear Charlie:

This evening, as I reviewed your updated campaign website, I noticed a disheartening fact. Your website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party, or as you frequently refer to it, the party of Lincoln.

As a long-time personal friend, I had suspected you were considering a break from the party when my recent calls went unanswered. This comes at a time when we clearly differ on what it means to be a conservative with a firm belief in less government, less taxing, less spending and more freedom.

That is why it is with sadness that I write this letter to you, my friend and mentor.

In May 2007, as you were leaving for a state visit to Israel, you called and encouraged me to run for the state House of Representatives. You said I should join you in Tallahassee and serve the people of Florida. I accepted the challenge. Like you, I campaigned as a Republican, and a solid fiscal conservative. With your help, I was elected in 2008.

Then, we both agreed with Abraham Lincoln, the founder of our party, who stressed that “Important principles must be inflexible.” Those conservative free market principles we both campaigned on were – and remain – just that.

But more recently, a statement from Peggy Noonan better illustrates what appears to be your guiding principle as Governor. Noonan wrote, “Politics is about policy. It’s not about who’s emotional and who cries or makes you cry.” I agree. Unfortunately, I don’t believe you do, or at least you no longer do. Your recent actions have not been about policy, but about emotion and crying. Policy and people have suffered as a result.

We have always disagreed on some important issues (market based insurance, claims of climate change, judicial appointments), but the list appears to be growing (education excellence, ending entitlements, rail). Thus, it is with sadness that I hereby resign from the Statewide Finance Team and as the Southwest Florida Regional Chairman for the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate campaign.

Regardless, I continue to value our friendship. Let’s be sure that does not change. Ann and I look forward to that dinner we’ve been planning with you and your lovely bride, Carole, and I hope we can do that soon.

Your friend,

ExcessivelyDiverted on April 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM

It was about allegations.. Without any facts.

franksalterego on April 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM

I think that is what most of the comments are about, including the timing and how it was instigated. Maybe I have misunderstood what you are disagreeing with in regards to the subject altogether.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Here’s how the Left is spinning it.

franksalterego on April 21, 2010 at 11:19 AM

How much money has the RNC spent on Gov. Crist when they were stupid enough to endorse him before the primary? If he goes Independent will they sue for reimbursement? Is that Mr. Meeks I see jumping up and down yelling “Look at me!”.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 11:36 AM

I don’t believe that the GOP sells securities over an exchange anywhere?

Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 9:56 AM

Do you read posts? I never said the GOP sells securities, or that the SEC is in involved with any voting laws…read my post, take some notes, then humbly come back and say you made an error. I will accept your apology, it happens often.

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 11:37 AM

The Clinton’s favorite tactic…it is almost untraceable since the target is such a high profile and is involved in a complex system of rules and regulations…almost all candidates at that level will have an accounting error, and that will be exploited.

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 11:40 AM

I don’t live in FL and don’t know Rubio or Christ’s pasts, but do note that during this campaign, where I’ve paid attention, Christ seems little better than Spector of today. Rubio may be as bad and corrupt as you say, but Christ doesn’t seem like much of a win for conservatives. However, if it was Christ or a democrat, I would vote Christ.

Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Normally grammar doesn’t bother me, but it is Crist, not Christ…CRIST
Nonetheless, your post is funny and accurate using the name Christ…I would vote for Christ also…

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 11:42 AM

I don’t get this at all.

The charges were repaid. What do credit cards have to do with anything?

AnninCA on April 21, 2010 at 11:42 AM

First of all, the St. Petersburg Times is a very Liberal newspaper who delights in spinning for the Dems.

Second, the Dems are afraid of Rubio winning the Senate seat. They are doing everything in their power to stop that. In the last few days there were stories on the LEFT that said FL Governor Charlie Crist would win the Senate seat if he ran as an independent. There was even ONE poll that confirmed that, but the poll was slanted towards asking more Dems. The left even went so far as to say if Crist won as an independent he would be the most powerful Senator in the Senate. They want Crist to run as an independent so that it will split the vote and the Dem will win the election.

Now the timing of the investigation…Crist has thrown out accusations about Rubio long before this. It was only until Rubio was so far ahead of Crist in the polls that Rubio is now being investigated. I believe this is a calculated move on the Obama administration’s part to harm Rubio’s chances of winning. Pointing the IRS at Rubio ought to tell us something too! The IRS is the new Obama army. Remember it is the IRS that will make us comply with the Obamacare mandates.

THIS is dirty politics at its worst!

Janesense on April 21, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Janesense on April 21, 2010 at 11:43 AM

And it begins, laying the groundwork for blaming the impending Rubio Epic Fail on the St. Pete Times and that mean ol’ Crist for daring to expose the fact the Rubio is a weasel.

Squid Shark on April 21, 2010 at 11:48 AM

AnninCA on April 21, 2010 at 11:42 AM

It’s politics and it’s little wonder the public is annoyed.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 11:50 AM

This is typical DNC stuff…once again, just look at what they did to Billy Dale.
Of course the Crist believers will believe anything…and latch onto any rumor…this is why politics is where it is.
Even a rumor is fact with the mindless…

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM

It’s too bad this didn’t happen a bit closer to August and I have real doubts if they can keep the story going until November but I guess I shouldn’t underestimate them.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2010 at 11:57 AM


Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Your business is not subject to the Federal Rules and Regulations of election campaigns.

Put another way, say I have a business. I give my employees credit cards to use for travel expenses. I find out that one employee used the card for dinner in town – not an allowed expense. I discipline that employee. If I don’t claim it’s a crime, it is not a crime – as it is up to me to decide what the card can be used for. If I don’t say its a crime, it is not a crime b/c it is my money.

Totally different, like comparing Boy Scout rules with SEC regulations.

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Again, please cite the regulations that cover the use of the credit card.

You make an assertion as if you know what you are talking about, but can’t seem to back it up. I’m not sure that the credit card that was issued to him had anything to do w/ his campaign, it was for his role in teh state legislature. Thus, campaign regulations would seem to have no bearing. Perhaps I am wrong, but I have seen nothing to even hint at that. particularly since the Federal Election Commission appears uninvolved and instead it is the IRS and FBI that are involved. I guess you simply misspoke. YOu thought you knew something but did not.

You can humbly apologize for being so damn childish.

Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Not only is Charlie going Indie, but he’s trying to burn the GOP in Florida on the way out the door…

At least we will all get to watch JetBoy eat his hat.

JohnBG on April 21, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Charlie is burning that bridge with the GOP pretty fast. Just about every Florida GOP leader sees him coming and walks the other way.

If you boil the hat first JetBoy, it might be easier to chew. ;-P

JohnBG on April 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM

You can humbly apologize for being so damn childish.

Monkeytoe on April 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Notice you didn’t answer my corrections to your incorrect post.
You want me to prove to you that their are limitations to what a campaign can spend their money on?
You want me to convince you that their are campaign laws against misuse of funds?
And since the filing of campaign contributions is with the IRS, and the enforcement arm of that is the FBI, I don’t know how to answer your question, this is pretty common knowledge…once again follow my links to Billy Dale, accused by the IRS, and escorted out by the FBI. Jefferson, with money in his freezer, FBI…
If you don’t understand that very basic fact, I am not going to educate you…you are hopeless.

Now where did I state that the GOP is selling securities, or was that just an error on your part?…read my posts, then read them again, then you can comment.

Here are some links to help you understand the relationship between the IRS and the FBI
See where they work hand and hand? Now do you get it?

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 12:16 PM

When Bill Dale was charged, the charges were changed, then changed again…the fact is, eventually the IRS and the FBI were involved…they finally basically charged him for living a lavish lifestyle, honestly that is what they investigated because he was so clean…however they did find an accounting error of a few bucks over the decades and they nailed him on that, and it was minor.
This is similar to Rubio, whatever initial charge, doesn’t really matter, it is a way for them to fully investigate the books to find some discrepancy.
Whether it is the campaign commission, income evasion, accounting error, placing the credit card charge on the wrong account, it won’t matter. They are looking for just one error, no matter the reason.
Then they will focus on that and beat it to death.

right2bright on April 21, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Are they saying the only Republicans are having difficulties. Yeah, President Obama’s Administration should look into campaign financing irregularities. LOL! Or people not paying the IRS. LMFAO~

Sultry Beauty on April 21, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I didn’t see it posted, so I am gona go ahead and say it…

That sure is a nice campaign you got running there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it

lsutiger on April 21, 2010 at 2:36 PM

This site says that the investigation may not even involve Rubio. Only looking into Crist people.

MississippiMom on April 21, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Yes, MississippiMom. I really think this post should be updated – it turns out that it may actually be Crist who is being investigated & not Rubio at all. According to TampaBay.com linked above by MSMoM, Al Hoffman, the former RNC finance chairman and ambassador, who’s been interviewed by the FBI said he wasn’t even asked about Rubio once.

“They had Jim Greer’s travel expense records and wanted me to react to some of the issues surrounding that debacle. … There wasn’t one single question asked about Marco Rubio. There were a lot of questions asked about Jim Greer, (former party executive director) Delmar Johnson, Victory Strategies (the Johnson/Greer company paid by the party) and the (Greer) 527,” said Hoffman, who recently asked Charlie Crist to refund his contributions and who expects to help Rubio. “Definitely they asked about the relationship between the Crist campaign and the party, relative to the co-mingling of funds. … I believe they’re after any federal election law violations, tax avoidance issues, and criminal fraud.”

Hoffman said he assumed Crist knew a federal investigation was under way when Crist asked the U.S. Attorney to look into the matter: “He obviously had gotten wind of it and righteously called for an investigation.”

leilani on April 21, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Everyone knows Meeks is a muslim right?

sonnyspats1 on April 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM

“Times and that mean ol’ Crist for daring to expose the fact the Rubio is a weasel.

Squid Shark on April 21, 2010 at 11:48 AM”

I really hate to break this to you, but someone has to it seems….THEY ARE ALL WEASELS! Why do think they are politicians??

belad on April 21, 2010 at 9:28 PM