DENVER (AP) – Sen. Marco Rubio cashed out most of his retirement savings while preparing to launch his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, records released Friday show.
Rubio, 43, sold six retirement funds in September 2014 for $68,241.09, according to his personal financial disclosure statement. He made the sale even though he apparently had ample cash in the bank: He reported between $100,000 and $250,000 in a checking account and between $50,000 and $100,000 in a money market account at the end of 2014. And, so far in 2015, he estimates he has earned between $100,000 and $1 million from a new book.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio formally launched his presidential bid last month with a speech recalling his humble upbringing and about how hard his father, a bartender, and mother, a housekeeper, worked to ensure he could have greater opportunities than they did.
For much of his political career, Rubio has struggled with debt. He paid off student loans only after becoming a U.S. senator in 2010 and writing an autobiography that paid him more than $1.1 million in royalties. His latest filings show he owes at least $450,000 on two mortgages and a home equity loan he took out in 2005.
Still, the records show Rubio earned $52,000 on top of his $174,000 Senate salary last year from a part-time teaching position at Florida International University and in royalties that apparently come from the second book published in December. For the first time, Rubio also quantified how much his wife, Jeanette, earns, valuing her event-planning business at between $15,000 and $50,000.
Jeanette Rubio, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, now advises a foundation run by Florida billionaire Norman Braman, who is one of Rubio's biggest political backers. Her compensation was previously disclosed on Rubio's forms only as greater than $1,000 per year.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant could not immediately explain why Rubio sold his retirement funds.
Stephen Butler, president of Pension Dynamics Company in Lafayette, California, said it is unusual for people Rubio's age to liquidate retirement savings. It's usually done to cover a financial emergency, not when someone has a six-figure checking account.
"It's hard to imagine why somebody, especially when they have these other substantial amounts of income, would have had to cash that in," Butler said, noting Rubio would have had to pay an extra 10 percent in taxes on the sale. "It's not like he's desperate and between jobs."
Rubio still qualifies for a pension for his eight years of service in the Florida legislature that will pay him about $1,000 a month when he turns 62, according to his filing. And as a senator he qualifies for a generous federal retirement plan. Rubio also still lists an employee savings plan from Florida International University, where he has taught since 2008, worth between $1,000 and $15,000. Rubio listed between $34,000 and $160,000 invested in special saving funds for his four children's college education.
Rubio's maximum net worth, outside the value of the Miami house where his family lives, was $355,000 last year, according to an AP analysis of the new records. That may rise quickly: Rubio's paperwork indicates that so far in 2015 he earned between $100,000 and $1 million off his book "American Dreams," which describes his plan for helping the working and middle classes.