Marco Rubio's campaign-trail promises of being a strong foil to Donald Trump already felt like pulp fiction thanks to his 100 percent voting record for the president's appointees and plans. Now they're beginning to look as sordid as the latest Fifty Shades edition.
A new analysis of federal donation records shows Rubio has taken more cash from Trump's cabinet appointees than anyone else in the Senate. Rubio has literally been casting yes votes for the very same people who funded his way back to D.C.
The new figures come via the Center for Responsive Politics, which combed through Federal Election Commission data to crunch donations. The center, a nonpartisan group devoted to shining a light on money in politics, found that Rubio has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from at least four of Trump's cabinet picks.
The majority came from Betsy DeVos, the multibillionaire activist who needed Rubio's vote to squeak through Senate appointment last week over the heated protests of teachers across the nation. As New Times reported last week, Rubio's campaigns had accepted nearly $100,000 from DeVos and her wealthy family. But it turns out his ties to the education secretary are even deeper.
The Center for Responsive Politics found that when you include political action committees that helped Rubio, DeVos' family has actually sent $802,500 to help the junior senator from Florida, mostly through the Conservative Solutions PAC. That's a lot of moola.
Rubio also took $30,600 from Andrew Puzder, the Carl's Jr. CEO who has been accused of abusing his wife and routinely ripping off his employees; $25,000 from Wilbur Ross, a multibillionaire known as "the king of bankruptcy" who is up for commerce secretary; and $10,800 from Linda McMahon, the wrestling magnate who Trump for some reason believes is qualified to run the Small Business Administration.
Rubio says there's no conflict in voting for the same people who have gilded his campaign coffers with absurd splashes of cash. He would agree with their positions whether they were paying his campaign tabs or not, he says.
“People contribute to Senator Rubio's campaign because they support his agenda,” his spokesperson said in a statement regarding the DeVos contributions.
That's one way of looking at it. Another is that Rubio is bought and paid for by the special interests represented by the wealthiest cabinet ever assembled by a U.S. president.