The Florida Commission on Ethics dismissed a complaint against Sen. Marco Rubio that accused him of breaching the public’s trust and misusing his political position for personal gain.
The complaint, filed in 2010 by Michael Ryan, a Democratic donor from Fort Lauderdale, , charged that while he served as speaker of the Florida House, Rubio misused a state party credit card for personal expenses. Ryan also accused Rubio of using his political position to secure employment at a university and a hospital. Ryan based his claim on a number of newspaper reports.
These issues arose during Rubio’s 2010 campaign for the Florida senate seat. He eventually won, but they’re still considered among the controversies that could hurt Rubio’s political stock down the line.
After the case sat unreviewed for nearly two years, Rubio asked the commission to drop the “baseless claim” in March, just as his name began to be floated as a potential vice presidential running mate. The commission decided today to dismiss the case, clearing him of any wrongdoing alleged in the complaint.
In April, Rubio admitted he made a “mistake” in the way he handled his state party card but emphasized that he did not bill any of the expenses to the Republican Party of Florida, but instead paid the credit card company directly for any mischarges.
“I did not bill personal expenses to the Republican Party of Florida. The Republican Party of Florida never paid my personal expenses. Never. But look, you know, I shouldn’t have done it that way. It was a lesson learned,” Rubio said in a Fox News interview in April. “It was a mistake. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it very differently.”
“At the end of every month, we would get those statements. We would see what was on there that was party-related, and the party would pay that. If it wasn’t party-related, I would pay that directly to American Express. Now, obviously, in hindsight, it looks bad, right? I mean, why are you using a party credit card at all? Well, some of these expenses were because a travel agent had the … credit card number, and they billed it to that card instead of the other card. Sometimes, it was just a mistake, you know, literally just reached for the wrong card.”