As Marco Rubio considers whether to enter the 2016 presidential race, political foes are again raising questions about a Tallahassee home the Florida senator co-owns with an embattled former Miami lawmaker under investigation for violating campaign finance laws.
"This will be an issue. When you run for president, voters and the press have an insatiable appetite for people's histories, what they've done, who they are," Craig Smith, a senior adviser to the the Ready for Hillary super PAC, told Politico
"It raises questions about his judgment, about the kind of people he would bring with him into government, into a campaign," he added.
Those questions about a Tallahassee house that Rubio and another state legislator, David Rivera, purchased in 2005, have dogged the presidential prospect and were revived last week when the property was put up for sale with a $125,000 listing price, which is $10,000 less than they initially paid for the 1,228-square-foot property, according to Politico.
The home became an issue during Rubio's 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate when it was reported that Deutsche Bank was seeking full payment and fees in the total of $136,000 in a civil lawsuit because payments had not been made in five months, reported The Tampa Bay Times
At the time, a spokesman for Rubio's campaign told The Tampa Bay Times that "a clarification was needed on the amount owed, which has been resolved" and a payment of $9,525 was given to the mortgage company's lawyers to cover missed payments and fees.
"There is no foreclosure. The mortgage is paid and up to date," Rivera told the paper.
While Rivera and Rubio are no longer friends or associates, it certainly does not help Rubio that last Thursday an administrative law judge issued an order stating that Rivera, 49, should be required to pay $16,500 in fines and nearly $41,322 in restitution resulting from a probe that found he violated campaign finance and ethics laws, according to Miami's CBS affiliate
Last year, the Florida Commission of Ethics sent a 37-page recommendation to the judge, who found that Rivera violated three state ethics laws each year between 2005 and 2009 by improperly claiming state travel reimbursements and did not adequately disclose financial information.
The ethics commission charged Rivera with 11 potential violations in 2012, but later withdrew five of the charges, according to the Miami Herald
Judge David Watkins also recommended last week that Rivera, who served one term in the U.S. House, should be censured and should face reprimand.
The troubled Tallahassee home surfaced again in 2012 when Rubio's name was being circulated as a possible vice presidential candidate.
Washington Post political pundit Chris Cillizza
said the Rivera connection was the reason Rubio would not be selected to be on the Republicans' 2012 presidential ticket.
"It's not clear how long Rubio can keep this 'he's an old friend' schtick up — and there are clearly political perils in doing so. Rubio will wind up answering for Rivera at every turn and, in the event the IRS and FBI decide to prosecute, he'll have to get as far away from his friend as quickly as possible," wrote Cillizza.
When asked about his relationship with Rivera, Rubio told Fox News' Bret Baier in 2012 that Rivera was "a friend I've known on a personal level even before I was elected or he was elected to office. So look, I know he's going through a tough time. And we've all read the press reports and none of us like to see that about anybody, much less a friend. And he's going to have to deal with those issues," according to a Politico report
The Florida senator has continued to maintain that the failure to make payments was the result of a disagreement over the amount and subsequent confusion.
"There was a disagreement with the bank about how much the monthly payments were. And it all got confusing. The bank turned it over to a — one of these law firms in Florida that specialized in quick foreclosure proceedings. And before we could figure it all out with them, they filed this paperwork. So we quickly addressed it, and we've never had a problem since," he told Fox News' Baier.
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