It seems that Marco Rubio again finds himself in the center of that circular firing squad as the “hero of the Taj Mahal” no matter how hard he tries to squirm out of it.
As you’ll recall, Rubio made the secret “hero’s list” in an e-mail for securing funds to build the monstrosity of a courthouse. Rubio claims to suffer from a bit of amnesia on the subject. For those of you not familiar with this particular Rubio scandal, here’s a bit of a refresher:
The St. Petersburg Times has obtained an e-mail which made the rounds among judges on the Taj Mahal courthouse committee that calls Rubio a “hero” and “especially helpful” when it came to delivering the money to build the courthouse. That’s the Tallahassee courthouse that was built with millions in funds from the State Workers Compensation Trust Fund that provided things like 60 inch flat screen televisions, private kitchens with granite countertops, private bathrooms and chambers paneled with mahogany for each judge. To the tune of $48 million. This at the same time that budgets were being cut and workers were laid off.
Rubio has claimed to know little about it, contrary to what his former appropriations chairman Ray Sansom says. Sansom is criminally charged with grand theft on another unrelated appropriations case.
A grand jury in Leon County will be looking into the courthouse funding when it meets in late September.
Also noticeable on the list are several other members of the Republican Party Of Florida who found themselves completely in the clear in their audit of their own party’s spending, but did find fault with former member Charlie Crist and Jim Greer. The audit was done by the company that audited Enron. Those who made the “Heroes” and “Especially Helpful” list, from the Times article:
The heroes list
The building committee of the 1st District Court of Appeal circulated an e-mail in 2008 that identified the “heroes” behind the new courthouse and lauded the few who were “especially helpful.” Here is the list, without the names of six Senate and 10 House staffers:
House Speaker Marco Rubio
Sen. Victor Crist
Rep. Marti Coley
Rep. Ron Reagan
Senate President Ken Pruitt
Sen. Alex Villalobos
Sen. J.D. Alexander
Sen. Lisa Carlton
Rep. Ray Sansom
Rep. Dennis Ross
Rep. Dean Cannon
Rep. Will Weatherford
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp
FSU President T.K. Wetherell
Lobbyist Stephen W. Metz
Lobbyist Peter M. Dunbar
Lobbyist John E. Thrasher (since elected to the Senate)
Dennis Ross said today he is unfairly being tied to former legislators who were involved in the 1st District Court of Appeal Courthouse scandal in Tallahassee.
Ross left the Florida House in 2008 after reaching his term limit and is now the Republican candidate for the 12th Congressional District.
The congressional race has become heated on all sides, with the three candidates, which also include Democrat Lori Edwards and Tea Party candidate Randy Wilkinson, playing hardball.
Ross said being tied to the scandal of the extravagant courthouse, now dubbed “the Taj Mahal,” is purely political. He is being singled out, he said, because the lawyer on the other side of the courthouse case represents police and fire unions, and those unions did not endorse him….
Ross said his name being put on a “heroes list” by the courthouse’s promoters after the money to build it was approved, was incorrect. That list singled out individual legislators to be thanked for their special help in getting the new courthouse built.
Ross said he was not involved in the decision to build the “Taj Mahal” because that was in 2007, a year in which he opposed a property insurance plan supported by Republican leaders.
For his opposition, he was was stripped of his chairmanship of the House Insurance Committee and his post on the leadership council.
“I didn’t know anything more about it than any other of the 119 rank-and-file members in the House, because I had already been removed when it (the courthouse) came up,” he said. “I didn’t even know I was on a ‘heroes list’ until all this came out.
“It may be because my name was still on the council roster after I had been stripped of all my memberships and they just assumed I voted for it. Nobody has asked me about it, they just printed that I was on a heroes list.
“I don’t know anything about that. That was Marco Rubio and (Jeff) Atwater.”
Senate President Jeff Atwater told The Ledger in an interview last week he had nothing to do with the courthouse because he was not president of the Senate then.
So I guess that brings us right back to self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative” Marco Rubio, who is anything but. Today’s St. Petersburg Times has a great refresher course on those facts and figures as well. You can read that here.