Thursday, April 07, 2011

Reactionary Right Winger U.S. Rep. David Rivera has his press secretary "edit" his Wikepedia entry

Poster Boy of Miami Fascists

I am not surprised with what is happening with the U.S. Representative from Florida, David Rivera. He is a totally fanatical right-winger who gives us a very clear picture of what his Miami constituency is like. Their fascist ideology dominates everything. He reminds me very much of when General Fulgencio Batista was in power in Cuba with the dutiful help of Uncle Sam and the American Mafia. Corruption and illegality are the trademarks of David Rivera. He even supports a murderer like terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. What can we expect from that scummy duo?

Here is what website Politico reported today:

Rep. David Rivera's war with Wikipedia

By MARIN COGAN | 4/7/11 4:37 AM EDT Updated: 4/7/11 6:46 AM EDT

It’s not easy policing the image of a member of Congress — especially when your boss is Rep. David Rivera, the Florida Republican freshman beset by so many public controversies that Majority Leader Eric Cantor declined to meet with him when he visited Miami last month.

So, on March 16 at 6:40 p.m., a Wikipedia editor with the handle “Lmveiga” decided to do some maintenance to Rivera’s Wikipedia page. First, Lmveiga removed a précis of the congressman’s legislative career, replacing it with a six-point list of “Rivera’s Legislative Accomplishments,” taken directly from his campaign website.

Then, Lmveiga removed the entire “controversies” section.

The deleted text included accusations that a David M. Rivera was named as the defendant in a domestic abuse case in 1994 (both the congressman and the victim have said he was not the defendant named.) The entry also included an allegation that Rivera was involved in a 2002 traffic accident with a truck that was moments from delivering fliers detailing the domestic abuse case. (Rivera said he was meeting the truck to pick up his own fliers.) The section also said Rivera amended his state financial disclosure forms after one of his primary listed sources of income, USAID, said it had no record of working with him. (Rivera said he had worked for subcontractors to whom he had promised anonymity.) And it said state law enforcement agencies were investigating $500,000 in payments to Rivera’s mother for work with a dog track for which Rivera, then a state lawmaker, had lobbied.

Wikipedia editors quickly restored the controversies section. And “Lmveiga” again deleted it.

Lmveiga is the twitter handle of Rivera’s press secretary, Leslie Veiga.

“My only interaction with Wikipedia editing, which has been personal interaction on my own personal time, has been to add factual, documented information and remove false, undocumented allegations,” Veiga said in response to an inquiry from POLITICO. “The information I added was well sourced and linked to legislation on the Florida House website that the congressman sponsored during his time in the state Legislature, as well as current information about his committee assignments and subcommittee assignments in the U.S. House.”

Wikipedia experts said Veiga has an uphill climb against the army of volunteer editors of the highly trafficked site, who will keep putting the controversies back into Rivera’s entry.

“You are never going to find success by trying to whitewash the details of the biography you don’t like,” said William Beutler, an enthusiast of the open-source encyclopedia who writes the blog The Wikipedian. Beutler has developed a “best practices” strategy for editing articles in which there might be a potential conflict of interest. “All Wikipedia aims to do is reflect what is public knowledge and has been widely reported, and [it] is a well of information about a public official’s career. Anything publicly reported about their career is fair game for a Wikipedia article,” he said.

That meant that for the Wikipedia editors, the links to the Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, CBS and POLITICO were enough of a citation to include in the entry.

Beutler said it’s not all that uncommon for staffers to edit congressional entries. On Capitol Hill, the habit of polishing an elected official’s online encyclopedia reference became a trend in 2006, after Reps. Marty Meehan, Gil Gutknecht and David Davis and Sens. Norm Coleman, Joe Biden, Tom Harkin and Dianne Feinstein were dinged when their staffers’ flattering alterations showed up in their bosses’ Wikipedia edit history. In early 2006, Wikinews, a news source linked to Wikipedia, investigated all edits coming from the House and Senate offices and found most Senate edits to be helpful. House edits were more difficult to trace.

During the 2008 election, Wikipedia’s online guardians often refereed, and sometimes waged, fierce battles over the pages of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — removing a photo depicting the current secretary of state as a walrus, for example, or references to the president as Kenyan-American.

The House IP address, 143.231.249.141, frequently shows up in the edit histories of members, committees and constitutional amendments. Wiki editors repeatedly blocked the House IP for limited periods of time until 2009, when they apparently gave up the effort.

In Rivera’s case, the edits were quickly caught.

At 7:17 p.m. on the day of Veiga’s original edit, she deleted the controversies for a second time. On Veiga’s personal page, one Wikipedia editor wrote, “I notice that one of the first articles you edited appears to be dealing with a topic with which you may have a conflict of interest. In other words, you may find it difficult to write about that topic in a neutral and objective way, because you are, work for or represent the subject of that article.”

The efforts of Rivera’s press secretary are just the latest in an intense few months of scrutiny of the lawmaker.

Cantor recently fueled speculation about Rivera’s future when he told reporters he was “very concerned” about the investigation into Rivera’s finances. This came after the House leader declined to meet with the congressman when he attended a Miami fundraiser earlier this year. A GOP source told POLITICO last month that Rivera was left off the invitation list for a Young Guns meeting organized by House Republicans.

Democrats continue to hammer the Republican daily, in hopes that the ethical imbroglios will result in a resignation before the next election. “David Rivera has a long history of being ethically challenged,” said Dave Patlak, operations director for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. “We need to help him, and the first way is for him to recognize that he has a problem, and he needs to resign before he gets indicted.”

As for Rivera’s Wikipedia page, as of Wednesday night, the “controversies” section still includes the ethical allegations Rivera has faced in the past few months.

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JG: Corruption among the Miami Congressional delegation is not limited to Republicans. Let us not forget the infamous Alcee Hastings, who was impeached and removed from the federal judiciary.

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