A look at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's financial history suggests a lack of financial education, with habits that range from minimal savings to extravagant expenditures and instances of irregularities in spending, The New York Times
"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," the Times wrote.
"A review of the Rubio family's finances — including many new documents — reveals a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent: significant debts; a penchant to spend heavily on luxury items like the [$80,000 speed] boat and the lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7; a strikingly low savings rate, even when Mr. Rubio was earning large sums; and inattentive accounting that led to years of unpaid local government fees."
The Times said he stands out not only for his youth and dramatic political rise but also for persistent doubts about his financial management.
Separate to his personal spending patterns, there were instances in which he intermingled personal and political money. He used a state Republican Party credit card to pay for a paving project to his home and travel to a family reunion. He also put relatives on campaign payrolls, the Times said.
And a few weeks ago, his financial disclosures indicated that he had liquidated a $68,000 retirement account, while a recent house sale saw an $18,000 loss after facing foreclosure.
Rubio has admitted to making mistakes, such as the use of credit cards for personal expenses, appointing his wife as treasurer of a political action committee, and using party money for a reunion trip. And in his 2012 political memoir, "An American Son,"
he said he had a "lack of bookkeeping skills" and an "imperfect accounting system."
Allies have said that his financial mistakes are the hallmark of a self-made man who achieved prominence without the wealth and connections of many of his colleagues.
And the Times, they say, is trying to discredit Rubio. Last week, the paper was widely criticized for a story detailing Rubio and wife Jeanette's driving record which showed the senator had just four traffic violations in 18 years.
Allies say in recent years he has made moves to stabilize his finances with the sale of two books. He has also started college savings accounts for his four children, saved $150,000, and donated $60,000 to charity.
Nevertheless, questions about his financial history could undermine his political credibility, the Times said.
For his part, Rubio told the Times, "Like most Americans, I know what it's like for money to be a limited resource and to have to manage it accordingly."
He added, "Our primary financial motivation over the last 15 years has not been to become wealthy. It has been to provide for our children a happy upbringing and the chance at a great future."
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