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Rivera Opens New District Office, Dodges Reporters

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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Jim DeFede joined CBS4 News in January 2006, providing reg...
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MIAMI (CBS4) — As both state and federal investigators continue to cull through his financial records, Congressman David Rivera tried to maintain a business-as-usual approach to governing, opening a new district office Saturday morning.

“Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me over the years,” Rivera told a crowd that gathered inside the offices at 12851 SW 42nd Street. “All that support has come to fruition and making sure that this office, which is your office, will always be your office.”

Rivera spent several hours mingling with the friends and supporters who came to shake his hand and have their picture taken with one of Florida’s newest representatives.

The only folks not allowed inside the event were reporters, who were instructed to wait in the office’s foyer. When it came time to cut the ribbon on the entryway leading to his office, Rivera’s press secretary would only allow photographers inside.

“We are going to do cameras only for the ribbon cutting,” the staffer explained. “He is not going to take questions.”

But it has been Rivera’s refusal to answer questions and deal with the growing controversies surrounding him that has left him increasingly isolated within Washington Republican circles. He has repeatedly been forced to amend his financial disclosure forms and party leaders have privately complained that Rivera has been less than candid with them about the trouble he may be facing.

The Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit are all investigating Rivera on a range of issues, including $510 thousand in secret payments made to Rivera’s mother and godmother by Flagler Dog Track in 2008, a $132 thousand loan that his mother gave him that he failed to report, and more than $75 thousand in payments to the daughter of one of his staffers for an alleged “thank you” campaign.

The Internal Revenue Service is also believed to be examining Rivera’s financial situation.

Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor have both been forced to answer questions by reporters about Rivera and whether they intend to sanction or discipline him.

Javier Manjarres, the managing director of the conservative political blog Shark Tank, recently published a story from longtime Republican operative Roger Stone demanding that Rivera resign before he becomes a national embarrassment to the party.

Manjarres said Rivera is making a mistake when he refuses to answer questions from reporters.

“A lot of people are questioning why he is avoiding the press,” he said. “I would not avoid the press because there is the sense that he is hiding something. The fact is if there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to hide.”

In addition to the myriad investigations, Rivera has other troubles. There are Republicans who already are thinking of running against him in a primary in two years, and the Democratic Party has started running ads against Rivera believing he is one of the most vulnerable members of Congress.

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