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Marco Rubio got an $800,000 advance for his book. Did his donors pay its ghostwriter?

AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dean Hoffmeyer

In 2012, Marco Rubio’s leadership PAC paid $20,000 to Mark Salter, the prolific ghostwriter (he also works with John McCain) who worked with Rubio on his memoir An American Son. In 2012, Rubio got an $800,000 advance for the book from Sentinel. It went on to sell 40,000 copies.

Those facts may not be connected but, as S.V. Dáte notes in the National Journal, it could spell trouble for Rubio if they are. According to Dáte, “If Ru­bio used lead­er­ship PAC money to help pro­duce a book that put money in his own pock­et, he may have vi­ol­ated Sen­ate Eth­ics rules—not something a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate in the heat of primary sea­son wants to be deal­ing with.”

I asked Jason Pinter, who wrote about the relationship between publishers and politicians for the New Republic, what he thought about the report:

Based on what I read, which is just that post and background, I don’t think it’s fair to say his book was paid for by donors. ... It looks like at the most a collaborator was paid for by donors. Which is very different than saying his book may have been partially paid for by donors. But my question is: if Salter was involved in the book in any way, why wouldn’t Sentinel have paid for him? $20,000 is actually a fairly low fee for a collaborator or ghostwriter, especially someone with Salter’s pedigree. I’ve seen both collaborators and actual ghost or co-writers get paid far more for books with far less prominence.