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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist campaign reviving Rubio spending questions ... but misfire?



Playing off fresh reports about Republican Party of Florida credit card spending, Charlie Crist's campaign today called on Marco Rubio to release his 2009 tax return. But, as it turns out, the return has been posted on Rubio's website. See it here.

"Did the Crist campaign just fumble the ball?" asked spokesman Joe Pounder. "Not only did they demand the release of already released tax returns but ironically, Crist has actually removed his own tax returns from his website."

Here's what Crist spokesman Danny Kanner said to it set off: “Major media outlets have reported Marco Rubio is being investigated by the I.R.S. for his lavish personal spending on the dime of Republican party bosses, and given taxpayers were also billed for thousands of dollars of his political travel, it is critical he release his tax returns immediately. Voters have a right to know whether or not a candidate for the United States Senate has complied with federal law and accurately reported his income.”

Kanner subsequently pointed out that his news release called for Rubio to release his return "in full to determine whether he accurately reported his personal income," adding that what Rubio has up does not list individual sources of income.

As for the missing Crist returns, Kanner said they were inadvertantly not transfered when Crist switched to a new website to reflect his independent status. Later Sunday, the returns had been restored.


The exchange over spending marks a return to the tension between the two camps that existed while Crist was still a Republican and facing an insurgent Rubio. For weeks, Crist hammered away at his rival but it was not enough to stop Rubio's momentum.

Crist left the GOP and things died down for a while. Now Crist is making it an issue again.

Rubio has said he covered all personal expenses charged to the credit card, which included more than $10,000 in hotel rooms for a family reunion and a $133.75 bill at Churchill's barber in Miami. He previously released his tax returns from 2000 to 2008 but not 2009 because he had filed for an extension.

The 2009 return (which was put on Rubio's site some time this month with no announcement) shows a $529 penalty. Apparently that is standard for filing for an extension.

The issue resurfaced Saturday when the RPOF said it had completed an audit of spending by party leaders and was considering suing Crist, Jim Greer and others. But RPOF chairman John Thrasher said an audit revealed no wrongdoing by Rubio, Senate President Jeff Atwater and other current party leaders.

He noted that Rubio already reimbursed the party for more than $2,400 for plane trips he also charged to state taxpayers.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:28pm]


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