NY Times - Among the serious contenders for the presidency, Mr. Rubio stands out for his youth, for his meteoric political rise — and for the persistent doubts about his financial management, to the point that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign flagged the issue when vetting Mr. Rubio as a possible running mate in 2012, interviews show.
Many of those troubles have played out in an unusually public way, leading even some of his supporters to worry. As he rose in politics, he sometimes intermingled personal and political money — using a state Republican Party credit card years ago to pay for a paving project at his home and for travel to a family reunion, and putting his relatives on campaign payrolls.
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 that probably cost him about $24,000 in taxes and penalties.
In the past week, he sustained 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 [a] 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.
Mr. Rubio has acknowledged missteps: using personal credit cards to pay for his campaigns (a bad idea, he said); appointing his wife, Jeanette, as a treasurer of a political action committee (ill advised, he said); and using the party money for the reunion trip (an accident, he said). Mr. Rubio, in his 2012 memoir, “An American Son,” confessed a “lack of bookkeeping skills” and an “imperfect accounting system.”