By Francisco Alvarado
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
The people and corporations supporting Jeb Bush’s presidential run raised more than $114 million for his candidacy in the first six months of 2015, according to various media reports yesterday. That’s more than triple the former governor’s reported net worth. Last week, Bush released a cache of tax returns that showed he has accumulated a net worth of roughly $22 million. Meanwhile, his former-ally-turned-opponent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, attempted to get his financial house in order in the wake of a New York Times analysis of his mounting debts and spending habits.
Candidates and political action committees like Bush’s Right To Rise fundraising juggernaut still have another week to file campaign finance reports. But it looks like Bush’s camp couldn’t wait to rub the national media’s nose in it. A month after the Washington Post published a story citing unnamed campaign insiders saying Right To Rise would fall short of hitting the $100 million mark, the super-PAC announced yesterday that it had surpassed it’s goal by $3 million. With Bush’s campaign, which cannot coordinate with the super-PAC, announcing it had raised $11.4 million, Florida’s ex-guv has $114.4 million out of the starter’s gate.
According to Mother Jones, the haul shows whom Bush’s loyalty lies with:
The super-PAC’s massive fundraising total doesn’t necessarily represent a huge swell of popular support. According to a statement released by Right to Rise, the organization raised money from just 9,900 donors. The super-PAC reports that at least 9,400 of them gave less than $25,000. That may sound like those donors are relatively small time—and they may be compared to the group’s largest donors—but considering the most an individual can give to Bush’s actual presidential campaign is $5,400, the super-PAC’s “small donors” are still big donors in the world of political fundraising.
Stories of Bush’s net worth and fund raising prowess have taken some of the media glare away from Rubio, whose super-PAC has raised $16 million for his presidential run. Seven days before the New York Times published a story documenting Marco Rubio’s financial struggles, the U.S. senator and his wife Jeannette took on more debt on their West Miami home. The Miami-Dade County Clerk’s online database shows the Rubios took out a $604,000 home loan from Coral Gables-based Professional Bank on June 2.
According to the Associated Press:
He consolidated the debt on his primary residence in West Miami, Florida. The original mortgage required only payments of interest on the principal in its first decade. Rubio has only paid off about 4 percent of overall principal since buying the house.
The home next to Rubio’s in West Miami was foreclosed, which he says is part of the reason why the county has assessed the value of his current house at $400,000 – well below the $675,000 price Rubio sought when he put it on the market in 2013. But the house did not sell.
Instead, Rubio decided to refinance his initial mortgage and a separate home equity loan. On May 26, Professional Bank in Coral Gables, Florida, wrote Rubio a $604,000 mortgage at 4.5 percent interest, according to records and Rubio’s campaign.
The county clerk’s database shows that their first mortgage — which was for $495,000 when it was issued in 2005 — was paid off on June 26. The Rubios still owe a $135,000 home equity line with U.S. Century Bank. The debt consolidation came on the heels of Rubio’s release of his 2014 financial disclosure statement, which shows he cashed out his $68,000 retirement account despite earning more than $1 million from sales of his two books and close to $200,000 in annual salaries as a U.S. senator and part-time professor at Florida International University.
During a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Rubio said he raided his 401K savings to pay for appliance upgrades in his home and school expenses for his children: “We wanted to have access to cash in the coming year both because I’m running for president but also my refrigerator broke down. That was $3,000. And I had to replace the air conditioning unit in our home.”