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GOP Golden Boy and oft-mentioned VP pick Marco Rubio has agreed to pay an $8,000 fine for taking more than $210,000 in illegal donations to his 2010 Senate campaign, according to documents filed Friday. In a settlement with the Federal Elections Commission, Rubio acknowledged that he accepted $210,173 in “prohibited, excessive, and other impermissable contributions,” including more than $83,000 he failed to identify as improper contributions even after an internal campaign finance audit.
According to Politico, the donations came from more than 100 individuals, as well as two corporate donors, which is illegal. Rubio also accepted $26,000 for his Senate primary campaign after he had already won the party’s nomination.
By itself, the FEC fine is probably not a dealbreaker for Rubio’s vice-presidential prospects. FEC regulations are complex, and plenty of politicians violate the rules without much blowback. Moreover, in Rubio’s case, the mistakes are perhaps understandable given the high volume of cash that flooded into his Senate campaign from national donors.
But the campaign finance violation once again underscores how little we know about the junior Florida Senator. Despite the hype, Rubio is still relatively new to national politics, and he remains largely unknown outside of Florida and the Beltway.
This lack of exposure and experience will make it much easier for Rubio’s political assets to turn into potential liabilities. For a Republican Party wary of a Sarah Palin redux, the prospect of allowing Democrats to define Rubio before he has a chance to define himself will likely make the rising star an increasingly less attractive vice-presidential prospect.
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