Republican U.S Senate front-runner Marco Rubio brags on his website that he didn't officially request budget pork in his last four years as a leader in the Florida House.
But during Rubio's eight years in office — including the final two when he was House speaker — he unofficially helped push loads of hometown spending: $250 million, according to a Herald/Times analysis of little-known budget documents.
The budget items linked to Rubio from 2000 to 2008 are part of a list compiled yearly by the governor's office to track hometown spending.
Most of Rubio's budget items benefited his home county of Miami-Dade — from a $50,000 grant sought for a Coral Gables park to $80 million for a University of Miami genomics project. A total of $25 million in requests were vetoed by the governor.
The amount of budget money connected to Rubio attests to his skill as a lawmaker, but also contrasts with his campaign image as a tight-fisted spending hawk crusading against "earmarks" that have plagued the budget process in Washington.
Rubio wouldn't comment and his campaign referred questions to consultant Albert Martinez, who worked in the House under Rubio. Martinez said Rubio tried to cut taxes and spending, not increase them.
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