Miami Republican David Rivera, who is under criminal investigation for financial dealings, wasn't at a recent Eric Cantor fundraiser in Miami and the Majority Leader's spokesman said today that was no mistake.
"Given recent reports, investigations in Florida, Eric has concerns and he believes this was the appropriate way to handle it," said Brad Dayspring.
A website, Florida Clarion, reported earlier that Cantor spoke with former state Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla, at the Cantor Victory Fund event at Dade Medical College, but Cantor was said not to have had any conversations with Republicans who might be eyeing Rivera's seat in the event that there's an opening. (See update after the jump.)
That Cantor is willing to go on the record with "concerns," can't be good for Rivera. House Speaker John Boehner said last month that the House is "waiting to see how this plays out." Lawmakers can't ask the House Ethics Committee to investigate while a criminal investigation is unfolding, and as Boehner noted, the allegations predate Rivera's congressional tenure.
Democrats have sought to tie House leadership in knots over Rivera's woes. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this week shot out a press release naming Boehner the "Hypocrite of the Week." It accused Boehner of holding a "double standard on ethics" for claiming the "highest ethical standards" when New York Republican Rep. Chris Lee left after emailing topless shots of himself to a woman on Craiglist. But Boehner, the Democrats charged was "remaining silent about the ongoing and expanding criminal investigation into freshman Representative David Rivera."
UPDATE: We just spoke to Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami-Dade School Board member, who said he did speak to Cantor at Dade Medical College -- mostly about educational issues, including charter schools and Gov. Rick Scott's adviser Michelle Rhee, and about other matters Diaz de la Portilla described as "personal and private."
"Whenever you have the ear of someone at that level, you take it," Diaz de la Portilla said.
--LESLEY CLARK AND PATRICIA MAZZEI