Bad news: GOP presidential candidate, spouse are traffic scofflaws, or something; Update: Fed by Dem oppo firm? Update: NYT denies; Update: Paper trail clashes with explanation
posted at 12:01 pm on June 5, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
This hot scoop comes from the New York Times, which to be fair has actually done a pretty good job on the husband-and-wife scofflaw scandals on the other side of the aisle, too. A search of public records show that Marco Rubio and his wife have combined for 17 traffic violations in 18 years, going before the start of his political career. That, by the way, is still not as long as Hillary has gone since she last drove a car for herself:
According to a search of the Miami-Dade and Duval County court dockets, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating back to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Mr. Rubio with four and his wife with 13. On four separate occasions they agreed to attend remedial driving school after a violation.
Mr. Rubio’s troubles behind the wheel predate his days in politics. In 1997, when he was cited for careless driving by a Florida Highway Patrol officer, he was fined and took voluntary driving classes. A dozen years later, in 2009, he was ticketed for speeding on a highway in Duval County and found himself back in driver improvement school. …
Ms. Rubio’s driving record is even messier.
According to the records, her driver’s license faced suspension on three occasions, including after a 2009 episode where she was driving a white Cadillac at 58 miles per hour on a road in West Miami with a speed limit of 35 m.p.h. She paid a $302 fine and agreed to attend a four-hour course at a local traffic school.
Jeanette Rubio has the lion’s share of the violations, 13 compared to Marco’s four. She also had an accident earlier this year, which the NYT’s team describes thusly:
Earlier this year, Ms. Rubio, a former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, sideswiped a Porsche Panamera while driving her husband’s Ford F-150 sports utility vehicle to a donor event at the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach.
This is a Ford F-150:
It’s not an SUV, it’s a pick-up truck with a bench seat in back. Why call it an SUV? Maybe for the same reason that the article points out that Jeanette’s car is a Cadillac.
The whole story is silly and insubstantial. If there was some indication that the Rubios used their political power to have traffic tickets vanish, that would be a story. Instead, the Rubios had to pay a lawyer to deal with the court issues, perhaps a bit of a luxury but noteworthy only for their legitimate use of legal options rather than political power to deal with the tickets.
Ben Shapiro asks whether the New York Times might have noticed any untoward activities from another political spouse:
Marco Rubio's wife has traffic tickets. I wonder if Hillary Clinton's spouse has ever done anything bad. pic.twitter.com/AagpDZkwQa
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 5, 2015
Give credit where it’s due, though — the New York Times did a good job of exposing Sidney Blumenthal’s role in both the Clinton Foundation and Benghazi, as well as how the Clintons went way out of their way to hide donors. This story, though, scrapes the bottom of the barrel in terms of vetting candidates. Maybe that’s its real value — it demonstrates that the Rubios have no skeletons in the closet that will embarrass Republicans down the road, while reminding voters that they still drive themselves back and forth to work rather than have chauffeurs handle that duty for them.
And if voters really worry that the Rubios are unsafe on the road after reading this, they can take them off the roads by putting them in the White House. Problem solved!
Update: Well, this may be even lamer than first thought. The Free Beacon reports that the case dockets weren’t pulled by the New York Times reporters but by employees of American Bridge — an oppo research team working on behalf of Democrats:
Neither of the reporters, Alan Rappeport and Steve Eder, appeared on the docket records for any of the traffic citations for Rubio and his wife. An additional researcher credited in the New York Times, Kitty Bennett, also does not appear on any of the court records. …
Records show that each of the citations mentioned by the New York Times were pulled in person by American Bridge operatives on May 26, 2015.
And that’s the best they can do? Lame. For both American Bridge and the New York Times.
Update: Here’s a “legit” question:
@EdMorrissey so they put 2 reporters and 1 researcher on a story that was spoon fed to them? Only to make it sound like legit "reporting"?
— Susquehanna Hats (@epcpotown) June 5, 2015
It certainly appears that way. Why else would it take two bylined reporters and a “researcher” to regurgitate American Bridge’s narrative?
Update: The Times’ denies that they were fed the story by American Bridge, Dylan Byers reports based on an e-mail from the NYT’s Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan:
“We came across this on our own,” she wrote. “Steve Eder and Kitty Bennett noticed it on Tuesday while looking into something else – it is almost all on line. Eder planned to do it for First Draft next week. On Wednesday, another reporter, Alan Rappeport, got wind that others were looking at the same thing. He mentioned it to Eder, so we decided to get it in now. We hired a document retrieval service in Florida and got copies of the paper records ourselves. They came back yesterday.”
Yeah, suuuuuuuure. By the way, as of 13:51 this afternoon, these same intrepid reporters changed the story to remove the reference to the F-150 being an SUV and called it a “truck.” The NYT didn’t bother to issue a correction or note the change, however.
Update: Color T. Becket Adams unconvinced:
They’ll correct that statement like they corrected the SUV description.
Update: Byers is looking for some confirmation, too:
I’ve asked @NYTimes for name of retrieval service they say they used to obtain Miami-Dade court docs… will update if and when they respond.
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) June 5, 2015
Update: Brent Scher drops a little bomb on the NYT explanation:
Here is the full docket for one of the Rubio citations. No "document retrieval service in Florida” seen… pic.twitter.com/HDZUwHV0rQ
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) June 5, 2015
Oops. Your move, Gray Lady.