THE LIMITS OF THE HOUSE GOP’S ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ POLICY…. During the midterm campaign, Eric Cantor (R-Va.) assured the public — if House Republicans took back the majority, they would “institute a zero-tolerance policy” when it comes to lawmakers and ethical/legal transgressions.

That, apparently, came before Cantor heard about David Rivera.

The new House GOP majority was only sworn in a few weeks ago, and one of its members is already facing a criminal investigation.

Just three weeks into his congressional career, Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) has earned the dubious distinction of being the first member of the historic class of House GOP freshmen to find himself at the center of an ethics scandal.

The Rivera case also could prove an early and politically sensitive problem for Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and other top Republicans who criticized former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handling of scandals involving Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

Boehner has yet to comment on the allegations involving Rivera, yet behind the scenes, GOP insiders already are drawing contingency plans for a replacement should the freshman lawmaker resign or be forced to step aside, according to multiple Republican sources.

Yes, not quite three weeks into the 112th Congress, a newly-elected Republican congressman is facing a scandal so severe, the leadership is already preparing for his ouster.

With Miami’s David Rivera, it’s not just one controversy, it’s a series of head-shaking outrages that make one wonder what on earth voters in his district were thinking.

The most recent scandal 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.

Despite all of this, and Cantor’s promise of a “zero-tolerance policy,” the House Majority Leader has refused to say a word about Rivera’s multiple, ongoing scandals, or the criminal investigation

The GOP’s culture of corruption apparently hasn’t faded away just yet.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.