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Sunday Late Night: Florida Frosh David “Reimbursements” Rivera Flailing

Rep. David Rivera

This can’t make Speaker Boehner happy, to be asked about the state and federal investigations into the campaign finance reports of one of his Majority Makers, David Rivera — representing the battleground state of Florida, no less:

“As I understand the allegations against Mr. Rivera, they don’t involve any of his congressional service,” Boehner said at a news conference Wednesday. “These were activities that took place before he was elected. And I think we’re waiting to see how this plays out.”

Nothing to see hear that has anything to do WITH ME, please move along. Except, of course, that state and federal investigations put GOP corruption front and center in media reports about the Speaker’s new jobs-jobs-jobs-except-when-we’re-outlawing-abortion agenda:

At the heart of the probe is Millennium Marketing, a company owned by Rivera’s mother and godmother that received $510,000 from the Flagler Dog Track as part of a deal for Rivera to lead a pro-slots political campaign on behalf of the parimutuel.

Rivera, who had long denied receiving any money from the dog track, earlier this month admitted to receiving $132,000 in undisclosed loans from Millennium — loans Rivera says he has since repaid.

Also under investigators’ microscope: Rivera’s campaign expenses, including $30,000 he paid to Millennium for consulting in 2006, and $75,000 he paid last year to a now-defunct consulting company owned by the daughter of a longtime aide. Rivera has denied any wrongdoing.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Rivera paid himself nearly $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements over the eight years he served in the state Legislature.

When you’re reporting reimbursements to the candidate from his campaign account, it appears that the entry “campaign expenses” isn’t really sufficient. Every single line item in a campaign account is “campaign expenses;” some additional specificity is probably required, especially for such large reimbursementsto the candidate himself.

Who knew?

And David Rivera’s new workmates, the House GOP caucus, are anonymously reported to be “furious” and seeking a list of replacements should a special election be required. They, and their leadership, worry that Rivera has been “less than candid” or “not forthcoming” [politico link] in describing his ethics woes to them:

Republican strategist Ana Navarro said Rivera is telling friends he has done nothing illegal “and is confident that this too shall pass.”

“No matter how many big-wig Republicans in D.C. and Florida fret and cringe over this developing situation, David isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” Navarro said. “If people think that David can be pressured into giving up his seat while this plays out, they don’t know David Rivera.”

Yeah, that’s gonna fly. Especially since even Rivera’s employment claims don’t pan out [politico link]:

In addition, Rivera repeatedly claimed to have worked for USAID during the campaign — stating that it was his main source of income outside his $30,000 annual salary as a state legislator. But the federal agency says it has no record of his ever having done so.

Rivera now says that he worked as a subcontractor on USAID projects, not as a lead contractor, although he won’t disclose the names of the companies he worked for in that role.

Democrats see an opening here to attack Eric Cantor’s supposed ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for ethics violations.

Democrats, who in 2008 and 2010 launched aggressive attempts to capture the congressional seat, are pointing to Rivera to accuse House Republicans — who promised a “zero-tolerance policy” on ethics — of showing hypocrisy.

Seems like at least one of Boehner’s Majority Makers has achieved that rare display of bipartisanship our President gets so excited about: both GOPs and Dems think Florida freshman David Rivera, in office only 25 days, needs to scram.

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Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge