Sunday, February 28, 2016
Rubio 'helped cocaine dealer brother-in-law get an estate agent's licence'
Nick Allen, Washington
Marco Rubio, one of the favourites for the Republican US presidential nomination, has denied using his position to obtain an estate agent's licence for his ex-convict brother-in-law who had been convicted of dealing $15 million worth of cocaine and cannabis.
In a 2002 letter written when Mr Rubio was a leading member of the Florida state legislature, he urged the Real Estate Division of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to give a licence to Orlando Cicilia without disclosing that they were related, the Washington Post reported.
Cicilia, the husband of Mr Rubio's sister Barbara, had been convicted in 1989 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released on parole in 2000.
Mr Rubio's mother then moved into her son'in-law's house in Miami, and still lives with him.
The politician's endorsement letter, obtained by the Washington Post, was written on official notepaper which raised questions over whether used his position to benefit a family member.
He wrote: "I have known Mr Cicilia for over 25 years. I recommend him for licensure without reservation.
"If I can be of further assistance on this matter please do not hesitate to contact me directly.”
Mr Rubio has declined to speak publicly about his brother-in-law's drug conviction.
He previously objected heavily to an attempt by Univision, the Spanish language television network, to investigate his relationship with Cicilia.
A spokesman for Mr Rubio's campaignclaimed it was "appalling and shameful" for the media to be investigating the matter.
He told the Washington Post: "Orlando made some very big mistakes almost 30 years ago, served his time, and has paid his debt to society."
The spokesman said the reason Mr Rubio did not declare his relation to Cicilia in the 2002 letter was because he did not want to appear to be exerting pressure on the regulator to give his relative a licence.
Cicilia duly did receive an estate agent's licence and Mr Rubio then used his services to help purchase a property, the Washington Post reported.
Mr Rubio was 18-years-old at the time his brother-in-law was convicted.
There has never been any suggestion that he or any of his family members were aware of Cicilia's illegal activities.
Since Mr Rubio declared his run for the White House his brother-in-law has appeared with him at several public events, and Cicilia's two sons have worked shooting videos for their uncle's campaign.