Marco Rubio at CPAC 2015
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com
Marco Rubio at CPAC 2015Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com
Marco Rubio at CPAC 2015
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Round two of lame hit pieces from the New York Times on U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) just hit.  First it was traffic tickets, now he “struggles with finances.”  The New York Times says these problems are “Student debt, mortgages and an extra loan against the value of his home totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The New York Times just made Rubio more relatable to average Americans who also have student loans, mortgages and additional debt.

His other financial misdeed?  After receiving an $800,000 advance for a book he wrote he purchased what the Times called “a luxury speed boat” for $80,000.

They wrote:

In speeches, Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican, spoke of his prudent plan for using the cash to finally pay off his law school loans, expressing relief that he no longer owed “a lady named Sallie Mae,” as he once called the lender.

But at the same time, he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.

Here’s “the luxury speedboat.”

he EdgeWater 245CC Deep-V Center Console, the same make and model as Rubio's boat.
he EdgeWater 245CC Deep-V Center Console, the same make and model as Rubio’s boat.

Dylan Byers at Politico wrote:

But while Rubio did indeed spend $80,000 on a boat, the vessel in question is not the glamorous “luxury speedboat” the Times article portrayed. It is, in fact, an offshore fishing boat.

On Tuesday, Rubio spokesperson Alex Conant sent POLITICO a link to a website showing the make and model of the boat Rubio owns: an EdgeWater 245CC Deep-V Center Console. The manufacturer, Edgewater, notes that the boat is perfect for “safety-minded family boaters and avid anglers.” In a place like Miami, home to billionaires and stars who have multimillion-dollar yachts, an “$80,000 luxury boat” can seem like a contradiction.

Rubio’s campaign said his boat purchase included two new 150-horsepower 4-stroke Yamaha engines, a relatively standard amount of horsepower. According to eBay, each engine could cost as much as $16,000 — making the value of the boat hull itself less than $80,000.

A Floridian with an offshore fishing boat!!!! Outrageous!  Seriously at a time he had a $800,000 windfall (on top of his normal salary) that he also used to pay off student loan debt from his undergraduate work and law school.  He dreamed of having a boat.  He had money to buy the boat outright.  Go for it.

Oh, but he also has a sparse savings as well apparently, NYT points out.

Other moves seemed simply unwise: A few weeks ago, he disclosed that he had liquidated a $68,000 retirement account, a move that is widely discouraged by financial experts and which probably cost him about $24,000 in taxes and penalties.

In the past week, he suffered a new loss when he sold his second home in Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, for $18,000 less than he and a friend paid for it a decade ago. The house had previously faced foreclosure after Mr. Rubio and his friend failed to make mortgage payments for five months.

These were not isolated incidents. A review of the Rubio family’s finances — including many new documents — reveals a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent: significant debts; a penchant to spend heavily on luxury items like the boat and the lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7; a strikingly low savings rate, even when Mr. Rubio was earning large sums; and inattentive accounting that led to years of unpaid local government fees.

Liquidating a retirement account… how many Americans have been there?  He may have done it to pay off debt.  We don’t know why he did it, but it is his money and he paid the applicable taxes and fees.

Ok, with selling the 2nd home… selling it for $18,000 less than what they paid for it.  They don’t specify how long it was on the market.  They don’t mention the fact that he made that purchase while in the state legislature – he doesn’t need the house anymore.  It was probably more important to dump the 2nd mortgage payment than it was to recoup everything he made let along make a profit (which may not be possible with how the housing market has been up and down over the last few years).

A lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7 on a U.S. Senator’s salary, with income from two books and a wife who also works that doesn’t seem all that outrageous to me.  Personally, I don’t lease cars (I don’t like having any car payment), but we don’t know what went into that decision and frankly it’s none of our business.  As far as having a “strikingly low savings rate” well Rubio and many other Americans.  Define “strikingly low” and “strikingly low for a 44-year-old is considerably different than “strikingly low” for a 65-year-old.

This article is just slimy to me.  Rubio’s campaign responds:

First The New York Times attacked Marco over traffic tickets, and now they think he doesn’t have enough money. Of course if he was worth millions, The Times would then attack him for being too rich, like they did to Mitt Romney.

What The Times misses is that getting rich is not what has driven Senator Rubio’s financial decisions. His goal at this stage in his life is to provide his four children with a good home, a quality education, and a safe and happy upbringing. As he wrote in his book,

“The mark I make in this world will not be decided by how much money I make or how many titles I attain. Rather, the greatest mark I can leave is the one I will make as a father and a husband.”

The Truth About Marco’s Personal Finances

  • Marco has a single debt, the mortgage on his home.
  • Marco has decided to send his four children to private Christian schools in Miami, and has created college savings accounts for each kid.
  • Over the last several years, Marco has donated close to $150,000 to charity.
  • Marco’s monthly financial obligations do not put his family finances above the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio the federal government suggests is worrisome.
  • Marco’s paid off over $150,000 in student loans from his undergraduate and law degree.

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