New York Times issues third 'hit piece' on Rubio in a week

by Gregory Tomlin, |
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York May 13, 2015. Rubio, who attends both a Catholic and a Baptist church in Miami, is the subject of three recent New York Times stories alleging poor financial management and poor driving. Other news sources have criticized the paper, with one calling its work on Rubio "naked yellow journalism." | REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Presidential candidate Marco Rubio's personal life is the focus of another New York Times exposé – the third in a week's time.

The paper this time alleges Rubio, who attends both a Catholic and a Southern Baptist church in Miami, is a spend thrift, citing his lease of a $50,000 car and the purchase of an $80,000 luxury speed boat after receiving an $800,000 payment for writing a book on growing up the son of poor Cuban immigrants. The information on the boat, the Times reported, was gleaned from "state records."

"At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist," the newspaper said. "The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream."

Politico this afternoon published a story refuting the Times characterization of Rubio's boat, showing it is "an offshore fishing boat" described by its manufacturer as ideal for "safety-minded family boaters and avid anglers."

Rubio had said after receiving the payment for the book deal that he looked forward to paying off student loans and getting out of debt. He presumably did so with some of the remaining $720,000.

According to the Times, the purchase of the boat is only one example of Rubio's poor financial judgment. The paper said the candidate disclosed recently his liquidation of a personal retirement account worth $68,000, "even though he apparently had ample cash in the bank."

The paper claims Rubio has acknowledged a "lack of bookkeeping skills" and has used personal credit cards for campaign activities.

Still, the paper claims the "Rubios have taken steps to stabilize their finances in recent years, aided primarily by the proceeds from his two books. Since 2012, they have started college savings accounts for his four children, put away at least $150,000, given $60,000 to charity and refinanced the mortgage on their primary home to lower monthly payments."

Dennis Baxley, a member of the Florida House and a Republican who served in the Legislature with Rubio credited him for his drive. 

Baxley, who is also a long-time Southern Baptist from Ocala, Florida, told the NYT "it was a learning curve" for Rubio to handle all that was going on at the time -- but his rise to prominence despite having connections and personal wealth -- was "part of the excitement of Marco."

Last week the paper claimed Rubio lost money on the sale of a home in Tallahassee he and another young Republican lawmaker bought together so they would have a place to stay near the capitol while serving as lawmakers there. Two days later, the paper focused on Marco and Jeanette Rubio's poor driving record.

Presidential candidates are accustomed to newspapers researching their finances, but the Washington Free Beacon alleges Rubio's driving record was pulled by a Democrat opposition research group, American Bridge, and handed directly to the New York Times.

Leon Wolf, writing at Red, called the New York Times reporting on Rubio's driving record "naked yellow journalism." According to Wolf, the stories on Rubio illustrate he can identify with ordinary Americans.

"As a person who has been important in Florida politics for a long time, Marco Rubio could have doubtless made some strategic phone calls and made these traffic tickets disappear. Instead, however, he appears to have pretty much paid them. For his wife, he made the shocking change of strategy, reported with equal breathlessness by the NYT, of... hiring a lawyer. Cue the spooky music and include the lawyer's ad, which (shockingly) reports that he specializes in defending traffic tickets," Wolf wrote.

Wolf said Rubio stands in contrast to Bill and Hillary Clinton, who believe "there is no point in even having power if you're not going to abuse it for your own personal gain."

U.S. News and World Report also claimed the story of Rubio's driving record and other inconsequential "news" is not journalism.

"If Rubio's driving record becomes any kind of test of what person we'll choose to run the country starting in 2017, we're in trouble as a nation," Susan Milligan, a political and foreign affairs writer for the publication, wrote.

Since Rubio declared his candidacy for the president of the United States, he has reportedly raised $40 million. Democrat operatives reportedly fear a political matchup between Clinton and Rubio in the 2016 presidential election.