But today couldn't pass without this as a point of interest. Via the St. Pete Times and Miami Herald, I offer up this for the moment.
Federal law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tallahassee, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are all involved in the inquiry, which grew out of the state investigation into former House Speaker Ray Sansom. He was indicted on criminal charges that he stashed $6 million in the state budget for an airplane hangar for a friend and campaign donor.
In the federal case, Sansom and others could be charged with making false statements on their tax returns and tax evasion stemming from hundreds of thousands dollars in charges on party credit cards.
A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, Katie Betta, said she could not confirm the investigation nor make any comments. Coming in a high-stakes election year, the investigation could expose the inner-workings of a party that has dominated state government and raked in millions of dollars from lobbyists and special interests.
Meanwhile, in a separate inquiry, the IRS is also looking at the tax records of at least three former party credit card holders — former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (Crist is smiling over this one), ex-state party chairman Jim Greer (Crist isn't smiling so much about this one) and ex-party executive director Delmar Johnson — to determine whether they misused their party credit cards for personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the preliminary inquiry.
Political parties, which are tax exempt, are allowed to spend money only on political activities, such as fundraising, running campaigns and registering voters. While it's commonplace for party officials and politicians to wine and dine donors, the Florida party allowed credit card holders to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges with little oversight.
The IRS opened the so-called "primary'' investigation into Rubio, the leading Republican candidate for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat, and the two former state GOP officials to see if there's enough evidence to support a full-fledged criminal inquiry, according to a source familiar with the IRS examination... (more)
This has gone national, as the GOP's open war against Crist for his hugging of Obama was well-known and as Rubio's rise was considered part of the Great Teabagger Uprising. I shall comment further hopefully by Friday when I have time. For now, ask yourselves these three questions:
1) Why did these politicos use the party's AmEx cards when they were perfectly capable of paying for these things out of their own pockets? They are, after all, well-paid elected officials or else employed with salaries and benefits somewhere in the private sector...
2) How much has actually been billed to the state's GOP via these credit cards? What other purchases were going on that WEREN'T related to party needs?
3) Who was going to pay for all of this?
4) Why is the Spanish Inquisition standing there amongst their weapons? Wait... I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition...!