Friday, February 5, 2016

Marco Rubio gay arrest story debunked

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

An article began making the rounds on the internet this week alleging that Marco Rubio had been arrested for soliciting a gay prostitute in a Miami park in 1990. If true, the allegations could shatter the campaign of the Republican candidate who is currently surging in the polls.

The story, published on a website called The Political Insider, further claims that Angel Barrios, one of the teens arrested with Rubio that night, was later implicated in a gay porn ring. The article also contains a photo of a “gay foam party” with an arrow pointing to a man that is allegedly Marco Rubio. The Political Insider “bombshell report” concludes with a video from Infowars that makes many of the same allegations.

The Political Insider piece is based on two articles, one from the Washington Post and another from the Miami New Times. The article gets some details of Rubio’s 1990 arrest right, but omits and misrepresents crucial facts that are readily available in the same sources that Political Insider cites. It is true that Marco Rubio was arrested in Wainwright Park in Miami with two friends on May 23, 1990 when he was 18 years old. Political Insider paints this arrest as being connected with gay prostitution and implies that there was no other reason to be in the park at night, but neither original source makes these claims.

According to the Post story, a local homeowner association cited complaints about the park including “gang warfare, gunfire, prostitution (straight and gay), drug dealing and muggings.” The Post also quotes Delrish Moss, a Miami police public information officer, as saying, “It was very dark and had lots of trees. People went out there to smoke illegal substances, have sex, drink.” The Political Insider ignores everything except the gay prostitution angle.

Todd Harris, a spokesman for the Rubio campaign, told the Post, ““When he was 18 years old, he [Rubio] violated a municipal code for drinking beer in a park after hours. He was never taken into custody, never hired a lawyer and never appeared in court. Why The Washington Post thinks that is a story is beyond me.”

In response to the Rubio campaign’s response, The Political Insider breathlessly notes that “the police incident report never mentions alcohol!” The reason is explained in the Post article. The arrest was for the misdemeanor offense of being in the park after it was closed. The Post further explains, “There’s no indication that Rubio was involved in any illegal activity other than drinking beer and being in a public park after closing. The police incident report, which does not mention alcohol, states that drug activity was ‘not applicable.’” The misdemeanor charges were later dropped.

The Political Insider goes on to say that Angel Barrios, one of the boys arrested with Rubio that night, “was sued for running a gay pornography studio in a property his company owned.” The Insider quotes the Miami New Times which says that “Barrios was associated with perhaps the most notorious gay porn ring in Miami history….” Pretty damning guilt by association, right?

Not exactly. At the time, Barrios owned a property management company which rented a house to the firm that produced the porn. Barrios is quoted in the same article that the Insider cites as saying, “We are not in the gay porn business. We are not in the straight porn business. We are not in the porn business. My poor father, he had no idea what was going on in there.” The report continues, “Barrios says that he moved quickly to force the business out and that the gay porn site was gone within six months.” The incident occurred in 2007, 17 years after Barrios’ arrest with Rubio.

The New Times report goes on to say that the City of Miami sued Barrios and Cocodorm, the porn company, for illegally operating an adult business in a residential area. Barrios and Cocodorm countersued. Eventually the city waived the fines against Barrios and removed a lien from the house.

“They [Cocodorm] offered to pay all the attorneys' fees if we sued the city,” Barrios explained to the New Times. “I was looking at these huge civil citation fines from the city for something I had nothing to do with. So I was happy to let them go to court to try to get rid of these fines.”

Barrios denied that he and Rubio had a sexual relationship. “I have nothing against gay people, but this is just so far from the truth,” he said, “I have kids, and now they’re reading all this garbage online. It’s insane.” The New Times reported that Barrios “laughs out loud at the idea of having had a sexual relationship with Rubio.”

Neither source presents any evidence that Rubio and Barrios had any contact after the 1990 arrest.

Barrios did talk about the arrest and his friendship with Rubio in the Post. Barrios says that, while in school, they “were just messing around and partying. Trying to get pretty girls.” Barrios did not recall why they were at the park that night. “We never even used to go to that area,” he said. “That might have been the first time I went there.”

He also said, “I don’t think we got handcuffed and taken to jail.” Instead, they got a “piece of paper.” The Post describes this as a “promise to appear” in court, but Barrios said, ““I don’t think we even ended up going to court.” The Post notes that the charges were dismissed two months later and that “record searches turned up no evidence that mug shots were taken.”

As to the foam party, on the Jimmy Fallon Show Marco Rubio did talk about going to a foam party once, but there was no indication that it was a “gay foam party.” Rubio indicated that he did not enjoy the foam party since the foam ruined his boots, a tacit indication that he was clothed, unlike the men in the Political Insider photo.

The Insider links the picture to a gay website called Not mentioned by the Insider is Towleroad’s description of the picture: “Another photo shows a gay foam party at the ’90s South Beach gay nightclub Warsaw Ballroom, and show’s a man’s profile which Madsen says ‘is believed to be’ Rubio. The face is obscured, so it really could be anybody” [emphasis mine].

An additional photo on Political Insider allegedly shows Rubio dancing in what the New York Observer called a “Chippendales performance” when it published the photo in April 2015. The Insider does not provide any context for this photo, but far from being a strip club act, the picture was taken at an annual male talent show at South Miami Senior High School in 1989. The Observer identifies Rubio and the other dancers as members of the school football team, the Cobras.  Rubio also performed a rendition of “Still” by Lionel Ritchie. He did not win the title of “King Cobra.”

One final question is who “The Political Insider” really is. The site makes no pretense of objectivity with its claim that “we break down the barriers employed by the government and the liberal media….” To underscore the site’s pseudonews status, the byline of the Marco Rubio article is an anonymous handle, “Kosar,” not the actual name of a writer. The terms and conditions page of the site invites submissions and makes no mention of journalistic standards, editorial supervision or basic fact checking.

The information presented in this article is readily available. Much of it came from the same sources that the Insider linked in its piece. If a reader bothers to click the link and read the articles from real news sources, the truth is readily apparent. Instead, The Political Insider selectively quoted and misrepresented the real news accounts.

[An attempt was made to contact The Political Insider for this article, but no response was received. I have elected not to provide a link to the original article to avoid driving traffic to a fake news story. Caution should be exercised in visiting The Political Insider site. My computer got slow every time I went to the site.]

Rubio’s previously undisclosed arrest is a legitimate issue. Just prior to the 2000 election, news broke that George W. Bush had a previously undisclosed arrest for DWI in 1976. Bush had been leading in the polls, but the news of the arrest was enough to sway the popular vote to Al Gore.

Even though Rubio’s arrest was real, the charge that he is a closeted homosexual is unsupportable by fact. The article from Political Insider is nothing more than a very thinly veiled attempt to destroy Rubio’s character and standing in the conservative community.

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