Marco Rubio isn't running for anything right now, but that didn't stop him from spending more than $20,000 on a top national research firm to check out his own vulnerabilities.
Rubio spent $21,421 for "research consulting" from MB Public Affairs, a well-regarded firm based in Sacramento, according to his most recent campaign finance filing.. One of its partners, Andrew Davis, "led a team of seven researchers in Alaska for the Republican National Committee and McCain/Palin," among other qualifications.
A Rubio aide confirms that the spending was for research into Rubio himself. The Senator came under intense scrutiny last October when the Washington Post reported that his parents had left Cuba as emigres and not, as Rubio had appeared at times to suggest, as post-Castro exiles.
"Due to his sudden rise and early lack of fundraising, Marco's campaign in 2008 didn't have the resources to do adequate research. Now press are digging into things like his family history and his student loans, while liberal Super PACs like American Bridge are doing oppo dumps. So of course we have to do our homework so we can the record straight," said the aide. "The fact that you have sources combing through our FEC report within hours of it being posted says all you need to say about why we are doing our own research."
And indeed: The spending was brought to BuzzFeed's attention by American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research group.
Rubio is also gearing up a large-scale political operation, one befitting a rising star, if not a regular senator out of cycle. He spent more than $270,000 on direct mail, according to the report.