Still waiting for that ‘zero tolerance’ policy to kick in

STILL WAITING FOR THAT ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ POLICY TO KICK IN…. The 112th Congress is just getting underway, but the race to find the most corrupt lawmaker on Capitol Hill appears to have a clear frontrunner. The Associated Press has uncovered new evidence of more alleged wrongdoing on the part of Miami-area Republican David Rivera.

Freshman U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who is facing a state criminal investigation of his finances, paid himself more than $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements over the eight years he served in the state legislature, an Associated Press examination of his records shows.

Serving as his own campaign treasurer, the Miami Republican didn’t report any details for more than a third of the roughly $160,000 in expenses for which he reimbursed himself, other than simply calling them campaign expenses, according to the records.

The AP review also shows his total reimbursements far exceeded those claimed by 12 other top Florida state legislators who served with him. Those lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — usually gave at least some explanation of how the money had been spent, as required by Florida law. Rivera denies wrongdoing.

Of course he does. But the details look really bad for Rivera here, and perhaps more importantly, it’s part of a series of head-shaking outrages surrounding the scandal-plagued lawmaker.

The most recent scandal, before this latest one, is Rivera’s inexplicable decision to try to cover up loans from his mother’s gambling-related marketing company, a matter that’s already under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Indeed, it appears that the owners of a dog track made more than $500,000 in secret payments to a company Rivera owned.

The Republican congressman is also at the center of domestic violence allegations, has been accused of driving a truck off a road because it was carrying flyers from a rival campaign, hiding the finances surrounding foreclosure proceedings on a house he co-owned with Marco Rubio, and bizarre lies about nonexistent work he did for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

And in case that wasn’t quite enough, the criminal investigation into Rivera’s activities appears to be “expanding on multiple fronts,” and may yet include additional felonies we haven’t yet heard about.

What do Rivera’s Republican friends in Washington have to say about all of this? Very little. House Speaker John Boehner said this week that the suspected crimes “took place before he was elected,” which to his mind, explains why the party and the House leadership haven’t taken any action.

Just a few months ago, shortly before the midterm elections, Eric Cantor (R-Va.) assured the public that a House Republican majority would “institute a zero-tolerance policy” when it comes to lawmakers and ethical/legal transgressions.

I guess we missed the fine print?