A top contender for the Republican presidential nomination cashed out his retirement savings to pay some nagging bills for a broken refrigerator, air conditioning unit, and his kids’ private school tuition.
It’s a risky move since it incurs a significant tax penalty.
“It means that he is probably on some level living above his means, because he is borrowing against his future,” Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff told the Post.
When asked about his finances on Fox News, Rubio blamed the high costs of running for president as well as expensive and unforeseen family costs.
“My refrigerator broke down,” Rubio said. “That was $US3,000. I had to replace the air-conditioning unit in our home. My kids all go to school, and they are getting closer to college, and school’s getting more expensive.”
Rubio’s spending habits have drawn scrutiny since was a member of the Florida state assembly. In 2006, the Tampa Bay Times described Rubio as “barely solvent.” Three years later, during his run for Senate, Rubio was forced to defend his spending record after revelations that he put thousands of personal charges, including hair cuts, liquor store runs, and a $US10,000 family vacation on campaign and Florida Republican party credit cards.
Critics have also noted that, while Rubio rails against irresponsible federal spending, he has had trouble managing his own debt. The Senator only recently wrapped up his student loan payments, and is still in the red as he pays down several mortgages. As the Post reports, Rubio’s purchase of one of those homes was probably a bad investment – the home was recently listed at $US10,000 less than it was bought for in 2005.
“Rubio campaigned on reining in government spending, but his own personal spending is out control,” Brannon Jordan of the Florida Democratic Party told Reuters in 2012. “He says one thing but is doing another.”
In a Congress where most lawmakers are millionaires, Rubio’s income is fairly low. According to his financial disclosure form, in 2014 Rubio made $US174,000 from his Senate salary and $US52,000 from book royalties and his adjunct professorship at Florida International University. As the Post notes, this makes him one of the poorest members of Congress, ranking 456 out of 538 in Roll Call’s list of the wealthiest lawmakers.
Though he’s ben dogged by personal financial struggles, the Florida Senator has had little trouble raising money for his official campaigns. Former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman has spent millions supporting Rubio in previous campaigns and plans to do the same for Rubio’s presidential bid.
The connection also appears to have helped Rubio’s wife Jeanette, who made $US54,000 for a part time position at a charity that’s heavily funded by Braman.
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