Marco Rubio Under Federal Investigation

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Federal law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

[...]

Meanwhile, in a separate inquiry, the IRS is also looking at the tax records of at least three former party credit card holders — former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-state party chairman Jim Greer and ex-party executive director Delmar Johnson — to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry.

Political parties, which are tax exempt, are allowed to spend money only on political activities, such as fundraising, running campaigns and registering voters. While it's commonplace for party officials and politicians to wine and dine donors, the Florida party allowed credit card holders to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges with little oversight.

The IRS opened the so-called "primary'' investigation into Rubio, the leading Republican candidate for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat, and the two former state GOP officials to see if there's enough evidence to support a full-fledged criminal inquiry, according to a source familiar with the IRS examination.

Although the Senate campaign of the state's Republican Governor Charlie Crist has pulled its ads ahead of an expected announcement of a switch from the GOP to Independent status -- a switch I have been writing about for five and a half months -- you have to imagine that this story won't be absent from Crist's ads, or for that matter those put up by Democrat Kendrick Meek, in a general election campaign. Which is all to say, anyone who thinks this election is in the bag for Marco Rubio is off their rocker.

Tags: FL-Sen, Senate 2010, Florida, Charlie Crist (all tags)

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