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Rubio may face probe into luxury home lease

  • Updated

Former state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, in 2011

California's campaign watchdog agency may investigate whether former state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) is getting a special break on his home payments from a campaign supporter.

"We have received a complaint and are in the process of reviewing it to determine whether or not we will open an investigation," wrote Gary Winuk, the chief of the enforcement division of the Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday.

Rubio, who abruptly stepped down from his Senate position last Friday, says he is leasing a $681,000 Northern California luxury home from a family friend for $3,000 a month.

Real estate professionals contacted Thursday by The Californian said that's less than the market rate for what the mortgage would be on such a home.

These professionals place the monthly payment on a loan like the one Rubio said he took out from Dcm Assets Management last March at around $4,082.

The four-bedroom home is in a gated community in the ritzy El Dorado Hills community of Villa Lago, a suburb east of Sacramento. It has 4,660 square feet of space and five bathrooms.

The principal officer of Dcm Assets Management is Bakersfield oil man and Rubio campaign supporter Majid Mojibi.

The FPPC could be trying to determine whether the apparent break given to Rubio on his monthly payments constitutes an illegal gift from a campaign supporter.

The March 2012 loan, and Rubio's decision to return the property to Dcm Asset Management just months later in August, was the second time San Joaquin Refining Co. President Mojibi's help came Rubio's way in a real estate transaction.

Rubio has said the deals, including the short sale of his underwater former home at 320 Quincy St. in Bakersfield to Mojibi in 2011, were above board and conducted with an attorney's oversight.

But Rubio's statements, and information from real estate professionals, indicate that a typical borrower in Rubio's situation probably couldn't have obtained the loan on the Villa Lago property last year.

Commenting generally about state rules, said Winuk of the FPPC, "if you receive a gift of funds, a loan with terms not available to the general public, or income from the sale of a home, it must be disclosed on the public official's statement of economic interests."

Rubio resigned his 16th District Senate seat on Friday -- halfway through his first term in office -- to take a government affairs manager job with Chevron Corp.

He did not return texts Thursday asking for comment on the situation and his cellphone's voicemail box was full.

At 6 percent interest -- the rate Rubio told the Sacramento Bee that he agreed to pay Dcm Asset Management, LLC when it floated him a mortgage loan in March 2012 -- the monthly payment on the Villa Lago home without a downpayment would be $4,082, real estate professionals said.

Mojibi could not be reached at the refinery and did not return a late call to his home seeking comment.

Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree said a $4,082 monthly mortgage payment -- principal and interest only -- would buy a $681,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 6 percent interest.

Matt Perry, president of the Central Valley chapter of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals, gave the same $4,082 monthly mortgage payment.

Perry said that a typical mortgage lending institution would ask around 4.5 percent interest for a loan that sizable, making the monthly payment $3,450 -- still above Rubio's current rent on the property.

But Rubio likely would never have gotten the mortgage on the Villa Lago home without someone like Mojibi.

Rubio had a short sale on his record -- the loan on property on Quincy Street -- and officially lived in a small 1,104-square- foot, three bedroom home he owned in Shafter.

He said Wednesday that he couldn't get a "conventional" loan for the Villa Lago home.

Perry said a mortgage company, looking at a $681,000 mortgage for a person with an existing home loan, would be asking a borrower to have 12 months of "liquid reserves" to cover both properties, a credit score higher than 720 and a 20 percent downpayment.

Large loans, such as the one on Rubio's property, are generally more risky for mortgage companies because federal lending institutions will not buy them, both Crabtree and Perry said.

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