It seems that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the wingnut darling, has trouble with both the truth and with money. Other people’s money.
Chris Ingram, a veteran GOP pollster and former Rubio supporter, pulled the curtain back on those alleged failings today in a courageous column entitled “Rubio’s pattern of pathological behavior is pervasive.” The lifelong Republican runs through a litany of alleged misconduct on his Irreverent View website that includes double-billing taxpayers for flights to Tallahassee during Rubio’s tenure in Florida’s capital city, where the career politician served as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
The column comes as Rubio is dealing with the political fallout from a damaging article in the Washington Post that says the Miami resident embellished the story about his family’s departure from Cuba to curry political favor in the Cuban-American community.
Embellish is a diplomatic way of calling someone a liar.
“Marco’s reckless disregard for the truth is dangerous,” said Ingram, an old-school Republican with a reputation for personal honor and fair dealing. “He has a knack for getting himself into these little pickles and then playing the victim.”
The Rubio v Ingram dustup is the latest skirmish in the battle for the soul of the Republican Party between traditional party loyalists and opportunists like Rubio, who have tried to accelerate their careers by allying themselves with The Tea Party movement.
Ingram’s column may be the final nail in Rubio’s mercurial political career. The 40-year-old had been called the “crown prince” of the Tea Party and “the Michael Jordan of Republican politics,” before the proverbial snowball finally caught up with him. The disgraced politician, who had been mentioned as a potential choice for Republican Vice President in 2012, now seems destined for premature entry into the lobbyist ranks.
Ingram recounted a conversation he had with Rubio in the fall of 2009 that was designed to identify any potential political trouble spots during the runup to the 2010 Senate race. Rubio assumed office Jan. 3, 2011.
Ingram said he was astonished to learn the 40-year-old had been causally billing the Florida Republican Party for personal expenses, including $4,000 worth of new flooring for his family home in Miami.
Ingram (above left) also notes that Rubio secured a part-time teaching gig at Florida International University in 2008 that netted him a $69,000 salary at a time when experienced professors were being laid off in a deal that reeks of pay-for-play politics.
The position was never advertised, according to The St. Petersburg Times and was given to Rubio one year after he helped the school secure millions in funding. Rubio landed the plum gig as FIU trustees were grappling with a $32 million budget shortfall that led to tuition hikes, the loss of 23 degree programs and the elimination of 200 jobs.
Sticky fingers alone are not enough to torpedo a career in the ethically-challenged swamp of Florida politics, but the Cuban-American lawmaker may have ended himself by erroneously claiming exile status for his family. Cuban-Americans don’t play around about that kind of stuff in a community where oldtimers still refer to Castro (above right) as “el demonio.”
They’re not using the term in the abstract.
It’s a good bet Rubio alienated his core supporters by presenting his family as refugees from the communist revolution which brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959. They actually left Cuba for Miami in May of 1956 – seven months before Castro returned to the island to begin the ground war that unseated the regime of Fulgencio Batista.
No word on why Rubio’s supposedly anti-Castro father didn’t return to Cuba to fight the Communists during the three year conflict.
For Cuban-Americans, falsely claiming to be an exiled patriot is a dealbreaker. It’s akin to pretending you fought as a Navy Seal during the Iraqi War when you were really fixing tires at Pep Boys. It’s also a slap in the face of every Cuban-American family that really suffered from Castro and had to trade their privileged lives in Havana for poverty and exile in Miami after he took power.
The incident exposes Rubio as the kind of person for whom the truth is whatever he can convince others to believe.
“If the Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that,” Rubio said in a press release. “But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate.”
Apparently, Rubio would like to portray himself as the victim here.
Such posturing is no surprise from someone with the hubris to imply that their inability to visit Cuba – a prohibition that applies to most of the 312 million people in the United States – puts them on a par with the soldiers and officials of the Batista regime who had to run for their lives. Or those who fought and died in the failed bid to retake Cuba from Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion (above).
Afterall, there is still such a thing as inherent truth in the world.
Whether the self-promoting Rubio knows that is another matter.