My goodness, American Bridge is busy these days. The Democratic oppo research firm uncovered the scandalous fact that Marco Rubio had four tickets in seventeen years, and with a rinse cycle in between saw that magically appear in the New York Times last week — to much derision. Now, while most of the media focuses on the hundreds of millions of dollars that went through the Clinton Foundation and into the Clintons’ pockets from people doing business with the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the New York Times does a deep dive on Rubio’s finances. The lead practically drips with irony in its modest parallels to the Clintons (via Jeff Dunetz):
For years, Senator Marco Rubio struggled under the weight of student debt, mortgages and an extra loan against the value of his home totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in 2012, financial salvation seemed to have arrived: A publisher paid him $800,000 to write a book about growing up as the son of Cuban immigrants.
In speeches, Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican, spoke of his prudent plan for using the cash to finally pay off his law school loans, expressing relief that he no longer owed “a lady named Sallie Mae,” as he once called the lender.
But at the same time, he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.
Gee, I wonder where the Gray Lady got those “state records.” A document-retrieval service, no doubt.
So Rubio spent 10% of his book advance on a luxury item? That leaves, what, $720,000 for paying the bills? Funny, no one seemed terribly interested in how the Clintons could afford to buy two expensive houses while later claiming to be “dead broke” as they exited the White House — Bill to a lucrative speaking career, Hillary to the Senate, and both to humongous book advances that dwarfed Rubio’s deal.
Instead, the NYT goes on at great length to discuss the “unwise” financial decisions of the Rubios over the years. The first part of the story talks about “a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent,” a “penchant” for luxury items, “inattentive accounting,” and “a strikingly low” savings rate. However, most of this goes back years in the lives of the Rubios, especially their student debt, on which the Obamas also struggled through their twenties and thirties.
Readers have to get to the sixteenth paragraph to learn that the modest couple resolved their financial issues a few years ago:
The Rubios have taken steps to stabilize their finances in recent years, aided primarily by proceeds from his two books. Since 2012, they have started college savings accounts for his four children, put away at least $150,000, given $60,000 to charity and refinanced the mortgage on their primary home to lower the monthly payments.
Okay … so what’s the problem? Well, financial adviser Harold Evensky thinks it’s “staggering”:
Suddenly the owner of three homes, the Rubios saw their liabilities soar to $1 million from $330,000 in just a year. Harold Evensky, a longtime financial adviser who reviewed Mr. Rubio’s public financial disclosures at the request of The Times, called the rapid accumulation of debt “staggering.”
“This was someone that was living financially dangerously,” Mr. Evensky said.
This was ten years ago, when Rubio earned $300,000 a year from his law practice. The Rubio campaign notes that his debt-to-income ratio never exceeded 43%. It appears that, like many people with enough income to cover it, Rubio invested in real estate — not the kind of savings that one traditionally would use, but hardly a novel approach to extending wealth, especially a decade ago during the housing bubble.
Why is Evensky staggered by this? The NYT’s bête noire, the Washington Free Beacon, has a pretty good idea:
Harold Evensky, a financial adviser “who reviewed Mr. Rubio’s public financial disclosures” at the newspaper’s request, donated $500 to Obama in 2007 according to online records, but the Times does not note that in its piece. …
The Times’ failure to mention this conflict of interest is curious, given Rubio’s staunch opposition to Obama as he pursues the Republican presidential nomination.
The Times’ sudden interest in the minutiae of Marco Rubio’s life also is rather curious, especially their intent to paint it in the worst possible light. In this case, tongue-clucking over the purchase speedboat with Rubio’s own cash as a “penchant for luxury” while Hillary Clinton’s private-jet travel gets covered by a “charity” is a rather interesting contrast — and quite revealing about the media outlet attempting to make the Rubios appear nouveau riche.