David Rivera, Vern Buchanan Among 2011's "Most Corrupt Members of Congress"

In the seventh edition of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's listing of the most corrupt members of Congress, two Florida congressmen managed to earn a spot on the list.

Those two Florida representatives would be Miami-based Rep. David Rivera and Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota -- both members of the Republican Party.

"CREW's seventh report on congressional corruption names 19 members of Congress -- 14 members whose actions violated the law or who otherwise engaged in serious misconduct, and five others whose lack of regard for the rules earned them a dishonorable mention," the announcement says. "The 2010 midterm elections swept in a large freshman class, but certainly didn't produce more ethical conduct. A startling 14 of the 19 members on the list are new to it this year, and six of those members are also new to Congress."

Both Rivera and Buchanan were part of the 14-member list CREW says "violated the law or who otherwise engaged in serious misconduct," and Rivera counts as one of those aforementioned congressional freshmen.

Buchanan, however, qualifies this year as a "repeat offender" in CREW's list.

"Witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and bribery are all in a day's work for the ethically challenged Rep. Vern Buchanan," CREW says.

The Sarasota congressman orchestrated an elaborate scheme that forced his employees to contribute to his campaign, ensuring they would be illegally reimbursed with corporate money.

Doubling down on the criminal behavior, he attempted to bribe a former business partner with almost $3 million in hush money in a clumsy attempt to cover up the conspiracy. 

In CREW's ten-page report on Buchanan, it claims four unethical schemes from Buchanan -- pressuring partners and employees into donating to his campaign, reimbursing them for those donations, coercing one of his partners to sign a false affidavit, and improperly using his corporate resources for his campaign.

As for Rivera, the organization says, "Multiple agencies on both the state and federal level are actively investigating the Miami member for a whole host of shady schemes that have lined his personal pockets, enriched his friends and family, and shown a total disregard for the truth."

Rivera's report delves into his role in a pro-gambling campaign, the misreporting of his income on disclosure forms, the shady use of his campaign funds, and ties to an ex-lobbyist.

Our sister paper to the south, Miami New Times, has also been chronicling the ongoing controversies surrounding Rivera.

Of course, CREW notes, several members of Congress didn't make the list since they bailed out -- like former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Oregon Rep. David Wu.

"Members of Congress should stop offering pious speeches about the importance of ethics while failing to reform the toothless ethics process and rein in the influence of special interests," CREW says.

Read the organization's entire report on the most corrupt members of Congress here.

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