In Republican circles in Florida it's hail to Marco Rubio -- the former state legislator from Miami-Dade County who beat Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned independent, to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. In 2012, Republican candidates will likely be clamoring to share the stage with the young, charismatic Rubio -- including Adam Hasner, who is running in a Republican primary for the other U.S. Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson.
Hasner will face George LeMieux, among others, in the GOP primary. LeMieux was once Crist's "maestro" -- serving as Crist's campaign manager and then his chief of staff when Crist was governor. Crist returned the favor and appointed LeMieux to serve out a vacancy in the U.S. Senate in 2009.
Hasner portrays LeMieux as the foe of Rubio in an Internet ad he released June 10, 2011. Set against a backdrop of a photo of Crist, here is the text of the ad:
Defended President Obama's Stimulus As "Helpful To Florida"
Fought For Taxpayer Funded Bailout Of Big Sugar
Architect of Obama-Style Cap And Trade Plan For Florida
Falsely Attacked Marco Rubio
Even Compared Marco Rubio To Barack Obama
Charlie Crist -- Right?
As the word "wrong" appears, the camera zooms out on the picture of Crist. There is LeMieux, whispering in Crist's ear. The ad finishes -- "Get to know the Real George LeMieux."
We're checking Hasner's claim that LeMieux compared Rubio to Obama in a separate item. In this case, we will examine whether LeMieux "falsely attacked Marco Rubio." The ad doesn't state the subject of the attack but attributes it to a May 9, 2009, St. Petersburg Times article. Hasner spokesman Rick Wilson sent us the article in an e-mail, and said that the false attack was that LeMieux labeled Rubio a tax raiser.
From the article: '"Marco Rubio supported the largest tax increase in Florida history when he wanted to raise the sales tax by 2 or 3 pennies," LeMieux said of Rubio's 2007 tax swap plan (the Democratic Party already is using that as an anti-Rubio talking point).
We've written about Rubio's tax swap plan before. The idea surfaced during Rubio's first months as speaker in early 2007, as the Legislature and Crist were looking for ways to cut property taxes for Floridians. Rubio's proposal would scratch property taxes on all primary residences. In its place, the state sales tax would be increased by 2.5 cents per dollar -- subject to voter approval.
A state House analysis originally said the swap would save taxpayers a total of $5.8 billion in the first year.
But whether you saved money or spent more money at the end of the year likely depended on your individual circumstances. Back in 2007, the Times ran calculations under Rubio's proposal for both homeowners and renters.
A family of four with an annual income of $64,280. Home value: $241,100
Property tax bill in Tampa: $5,061.06
Sales taxes paid: $951
Property tax bill in Tampa: $0
Sales taxes paid: $1,290
Under Rubio's plan, these homeowners would have paid $4,722 less in state taxes, the Times found. Contrast that with renters:
A family of two with an annual income of $46,914
Sales taxes paid: $691
Sales taxes paid: $937
Under Rubio's plan, these renters would pay an additional $246 a year in taxes. The rental property owners also would still have to pay property taxes, meaning rent wouldn't be affected.
Overall, on the micro level, some people would pay more and others would pay less. At the macro level, two different studies said Floridians would have paid less in taxes -- between $5.8 billion and $6.5 billion. As such we rated a claim by Crist that the plan was a "massive increase" in taxes False.
In his web ad, Hasner said LeMieux "falsely attacked Marco Rubio." The ad cites a newspaper article in which LeMieux said Rubio's tax swap proposal was the "largest tax increase in Florida history." PolitiFact Florida previously ruled that Rubio's plan was a tax decrease so there's no doubt it is a false attack.
Our only quibble is that the ad failed to explain what Hasner was talking about -- so viewers are left guessing. Our definition of Mostly True is that "The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information." That's a good fit in this case. We rate Hasner's statement Mostly True.