Marco Rubio's "house of horrors" and other spooky political tales

I saw this story dredged up from the depths once again on Morning Joe today, when Politico’s John Heilemann showed up ready to raise the specter of all sorts of monstrous news about Marco Rubio. At issue was what Heilemann called – and I am not making this up – a house of horrors associated with Marco Rubio.

Some of you may have seen this tale of terror making the rounds before, but those who haven’t you may be envisioning blood drenched walls in a remote mountain lodge with creepy twins holding gore covered gardening shears. In reality, it’s not quite that bad.

The brick-fronted tract house with a satellite dish and a yellow fire hydrant in front looks like many middle-class homes in Florida’s capital, except for the two names on the deed.

Marco Rubio: U.S. senator and would-be presidential candidate.

David Rivera: Scandal-plagued former congressman under investigation in a federal campaign-finance probe.

This is one of those stories which sounds good for a quick headline, but the substance below the lede is a bit lacking. Mostly, it’s an opportunity for talking heads to say Rubio’s name in the same sentence with Rivera’s, and from all accounts the story about Rivera is legitimate. The guy is in trouble over campaign finance allegations and his ex has already testified against him. Further, the house itself has led to some financial issues for both men in the past.

But when you dig deeper, the amount of tar you can try to stick to Rubio thins out quickly. Yes, he and Rivera are old friends and were roommates at one time. But there is no indication that Rivera’s campaign finance problems involve Rubio in any way. As to the “house of horrors” portion, they went in together on the property before the great housing crash and it eventually went into foreclosure. (It was also hit by a flood.) But they worked through that process and are now trying to sell it. Gee… it must be really hard for the average voter who lived through the crash to relate to somebody getting in trouble on their mortgage, huh?

On this morning’s show, they tried to tie that to a “pattern of financial and judgement problems” for Rubio. Of course, the only other such “issue” I ever see popping up is a relatively minor question over a party issued credit card some years ago. If you’re trying to make trouble for a presidential candidate, though, I suppose that’s all you need. And in the end, it may not be entirely coincidental that Marco Rubio just showed up in that WSJ/NBC poll which hinted at his viability being a bit higher than we had previously thought. Funny how this story began making the rounds again the next day, eh?

House of Horrors? More like House of Cards, and just about as grounded in reality.

UPDATE: (Jazz) Had the original panel misidentified from the video and it was not John Heilemann as identified above, but the MSNBC video for that segment is not available at this time.

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