Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) is facing heightened criticism Friday after the Associated Press reported that the freshman lawmaker paid himself more than $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements during his time in the state Legislature.
Specifically, the Associated Press found that Rivera, who was already facing a state criminal investigation of his finances, didn’t report any details for more than one-third of the expenses for which he reimbursed himself. He simply called them “campaign expenses,” according to the AP review.
Rivera’s financial problems have caught the attention of House Republican leaders and Democratic critics.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered this reaction at a news conference Wednesday: “As I understand the allegations against Mr. Rivera, they don’t involve any of his Congressional service. These are activities that [happened] before he was elected, and I think we need to see how this plays out.”
Rivera’s office released a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday regarding the campaign reimbursements.
“Reimbursements were for campaign-related expenditures such as travel, meals, and supplies. The campaign reports speak for themselves. All information provided was accurate and all expenses properly reported,” Rivera said in the statement.
The Florida lawmaker already is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over allegations that he failed to report receiving more than $130,000 in loans from a company owned by his mother. Rivera, who beat Democrat Joe Garcia in the open-seat race in the 25th district, has said he has since repaid the loans. However, there are at least two other ongoing investigations into his campaign records and finances.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been highlighting Rivera’s troubles for weeks. DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said that Rivera is covering up his activities.
“Apparently Speaker John Boehner thinks it’s ok for a Congressman to be under criminal investigation for ethics violations as long as the criminal activity happened before they were sworn in,” Ferguson said in a statement. “It seems clear that Republican Leaders like John Boehner and Eric Cantor didn’t really mean zero tolerance for growing criminal investigations into their own members like Congressman David Rivera. Now they’ll tolerate it, but just this once.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.