Woe be to the pol against whom the tabloids can wield a story that combines allegations of both sex and corruption. That’s the lesson Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera has learned the hard way over the past ten days, as the New York Post has dropped least seven articles and editorials suggesting scandal, uncovering evidence that is now being investigated by multiple agencies.
It all started with the Post reporting Ms. Rivera had a secret Facebook account that featured romantic photos of her and a staffer she subsequently hired, creating a possible conflict of interest with another government job he simultaneously held in the Department of Education. The next day, they ran a story about Ms. Rivera’s main primary challenger, Mark Gjonaj, calling for an investigation. The publication followed up on this the day after that with an article containing the criticism of a good-government group and an editorial blasting the entire Rivera clan, two of whom are also in elected office.
Outdoing itself further, the Post next found an ex-boyfriend of Ms. Rivera’s, Vincent Pinela, admitting she gave him a job at a nonprofit and used it for personal expenses. They also ran a story where Mr. Pinela claimed she wielded her political influence to end his career at the nonprofit after the relationship ended.
In today’s edition, the paper broke the news that the Bronx District Attorney, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Department of Education are investigating the matter. An editorial contained in its pages called on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new ethics panel to investigate Ms. Rivera as well.
Should any of the investigations turn up anything, and Ms. Rivera lose her tough-looking reelection campaign, the Post seems like it will be able to rightfully claim yet another political scalp.
For her part, Ms. Rivera has issued strict denials that she broke any laws or acted unethically.
Regardless, all of the negative press is unlikely to help her as she faces off against not only Mr. Gjonaj, but also Adam Bermudez and Irene Estrada-Rukaj on September 13th — less than a month from today.