Congress
7:37 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Gifts And Flaws Controlled 'Mercurial' Career Of Departing Congressman David Rivera

Time's nearly up for South Florida Republican Congressman David Rivera who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Garcia in November.

RIVERA: Not everyone counts him out.
RIVERA: Not everyone counts him out.
Credit File

It's a stall in a remarkable political career that always kept Rivera one or two adroit steps ahead of political and personal disaster.

Still, his last round of problems -- now under investigation by the FBI and the IRS -- may lead to criminal charges with possibly uncomfortable ramifications for Rivera's close friend, U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Charting the rise and fall of David Rivera in the Miami Herald, political writers Marc Caputo and Scott Hiaasen lead off with a telling anecdote involving an email exchange with the soon-to-be former congressman:

Rivera often embroiled himself in needless schemes and some ultimately backfired, say friends, foes and former peers.

Those who were even closer to Rivera, including Rubio backers, have anonymously described his schemes as bordering on “pathological” and “Nixonian.”

When asked about the comparison to former President Nixon, Rivera said by email “Don’t even know what that means.” He then added a “hee hee” laughter message that went on to reference a famous Nixon 1962 press conference after he lost a California governor’s race.

“But I do know this, you won’t have David Rivera to kick around anymore,” Rivera said.

It’s a vintage Rivera response: funny, edgy and laden with political depth. It also shines a light on Rivera's mercurial nature, which has long concerned some Rubio backers.

Rivera's departure from Congress is a relief to those Rubio backers who worried that the continued scrutiny might create awkward blowback for the senator.

But Caputo and Hiaasen quote a Republican strategist who admonishes us, "Never count out David Rivera."