What to Do When Your Boss Has Bad Press? Start a Wikipedia War

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Rep. David Rivera didn't have much of a honeymoon after being elected last fall. The Florida Republican has been dogged by questions about his past--allegations of domestic violence, sabotage via car crash, and a questionable financial history--to the point that John Boehner apparently wouldn't meet with Rivera when the House speaker was in Miami for a fundraiser earlier this year. There's just only so much a dedicated press secretary can to do stop the deluge of unflattering stories about the boss once the press smells blood. But Rivera's spokeswoman Leslie Veiga seems to have found another way to fight: an editing war on Wikipedia.

Politico's Marin Cogan reports that on the evening of March 16, a Wikipedia editor named "Lmveiga" started scrubbing Rivera's page. After adding a list of her boss's legislative accomplishments, she completely deleted the "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.

But that, too, proved to be an uphill battle. Other Wikipedia editors swept in an restored the content. One scolded Viega on her page, saying she had a conflict of interest in the page she was editing. Wikipedia was so thoroughly annoyed with Hill staffers' editing in 2009 that the site banned the House IP address. (It has since relented.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.