MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Wednesday he’ll release in the next few weeks all of the statements detailing his use of an American Express card he shared with the Republican Party of Florida.
Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House, had the party-issued card from February 2005 to November 2008. During his successful 2010 bid for U.S. Senate, news broke that Rubio had charged items such as grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife and repairs to the family minivan to the card. His spokesman, Alex Conant, said Wednesday that those expenses were for party business, and that the state GOP paid them.
Rubio says he paid for any personal expenses.
The statements from late 2006 to late 2008 are now public, but those from 2005 and most of 2006 are not.
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Rubio’s personal finances are gaining new scrutiny as he tries to break out of the crowded GOP nomination fight.
The American Express card is part of a litany of financial problems — from a bank moving to foreclose on a house he part-owned in Tallahassee to questionable accounting of political funds — that have dogged Rubio during his career.
GOP rival Donald Trump criticized Rubio on his personal finances on Tuesday, saying “he is a disaster with his credit cards.”
Rubio dismissed the charges as old news and said he did nothing wrong.
“Every month I would get a bill at my home and I would review it. If there was something on it that was personal, I would pay it, and if it wasn’t, the party paid it,” Rubio told reporters in New Hampshire on Wednesday.
“What I would do differently is that I just wouldn’t have done any personal things on it because I would have avoided all the confusion that it’s created in the minds of some,” he said.
During his 2010 campaign, Rubio’s aides said the charges were legitimate, contending that the minivan had been damaged while being used on GOP business. They also said Rubio paid American Express more than $16,000 to cover nonparty expenses when they happened. He also sent a check to the party as reimbursement for personal airline flights he said were mistakenly charged to the GOP card. Rubio blamed an accounting error.
Rubio was among several state GOP lawmakers given access to American Express cards through the Republican Party of Florida, which offered a way for lawmakers to get around the state’s strict ban on accepting gifts that was put into law in 2006. The ban prevents lawmakers from taking gifts from lobbyists, but the state party doesn’t face the same restrictions. The Florida Republican Party was responsible for paying off the cards on a monthly basis.
Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Sergio Bustos in Miami and Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.