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Feds launch probes of Florida GOP, Rubio's credit card use

By Matt DeLong

Hot on the heels of the Republican National Committee's embarrassing expense scandal, the St. Petersburg Times reports that several federal law enforcement agencies have launched an investigation into the use of credit cards by the Florida state GOP, elected officials and staff.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tallahassee, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are all involved in the inquiry, which grew out of the state investigation into former House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was indicted on criminal charges that he stashed $6 million in the state budget for an airplane hangar for a friend and campaign donor.

In the federal case, Sansom and others could be charged with making false statements on their tax returns and tax evasion stemming from hundreds of thousands dollars in charges on party credit cards.

The Times reports that the IRS is also looking at the financial records of former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio -- who is now running against Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP Senate primary race -- and two other officials "to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry." Rubio said Wednesday that he has not been contacted by the IRS.

This isn't the first time Rubio's credit card usage has been questioned. In February, Rubio admitted that he double-billed taxpayers and the Republican Party for eight flights. He called the billing a "mistake" and reimbursed the party for about $3,000, the Miami Herald reported. During a face-off on Fox News Sunday last month, Crist hammered Rubio for repaying the party instead of the taxpayers.

The probe comes at a critical moment in the Senate primary race. Rubio, a conservative darling and favorite of the tea party movement, is leading by huge margins in recent polls. In recent days, Crist has signaled that he may drop out of the GOP race by the April 30 deadline and run as an independent, as many have long speculated he would.

In a measure of how seriously Rubio's supporters take the probe, Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative, sought to reframe the investigation as a scandal for Crist, who has not been named in news reports as a target. Erickson titled a blog post on the matter: "Charlie Crist's GOP Comes Under Federal Investigation. Rubio Affected."

By 44 Editor  |  April 21, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  44 Native , 44 The Obama Presidency , Republican Party  
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In our future, when a NATURAL DISASTER strikes, which it will, you may take no comfort in seeing that a Howdy Doody Governor will put no pressure on insurance companies to do what is right
Likewise, if Marco (Pretty Pollo) Rubio
is in Washington, he will bring FEMA to new heights of corruption and waste to benefit his friends.

Posted by: Scatterthevultures | April 23, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

most of the democraps owe thousands income tax . you don,t hear about that . only the repubs,

Posted by: mahye1935 | April 22, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

the democraps will do any thing to keep the repub, out of office . they are running scared

Posted by: mahye1935 | April 22, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Crist has his own skeletons in the closet. I remember a very controversial trip to Europe.

"Taxpayers paid for more than two dozen people to accompany Crist, including a photographer, a spokeswoman, four aides, two agency heads and nine bodyguards. The bodyguards alone spent more than $148,000..." and his girlfriend.,0,5721620.story

Posted by: yellowbird500 | April 22, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

All Republicans as well as some Democrats are above the law when it comes to spending tax payers money as their own. Bush set the example and the rest of them have followed him in his deceit.

Posted by: racam | April 21, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

The Conservatives So love their thieves

Posted by: newagent99 | April 21, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Corruption/fraud investigation of Rubio...well, at least we all now know that he's a true, qualified, experienced KKKonservative.
Can we vote now?

Posted by: bgreen2224 | April 21, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative,

Typical of reframing the issue whose fault it is from Rubio to Crist ignoring the fact that the investigation focused on Rubio (billing the taxpayer for personal expenses and it isn't the first time) and several other party officials(Jim Greer and Johnson are on the list).

As a matter of fact AG McCollum has refused to investigate it and I wonder why? Is it because it would affect the Republicans?

Posted by: beeker25 | April 21, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Bread and circuses, Mr. Holder. Why isn't the FBI's Civil Rights Division probing THIS?



• Attention Team 'Project Geneva' -- This one's for you. See latest comments: OR re: top story, plus "U.S. Silently Tortures Americans with Cell Tower Microwaves" and "Gestapo USA..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 21, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

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