House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he is withholding judgment on an investigation into one of his freshman members.

Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) has been under investigation since late last year over allegations of secret payments paid to a company with ties to him. Boehner, in his first comments on the probe, said that the matter is unrelated to Rivera's service in Congress, and is waiting to react until the investigation proceeds. 


"We're waiting to see how this plays out," he said at a Capitol Hill press conference. 

Democrats have highlighted the probe in an effort to pressure Republican leaders on ethics after Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) last year caused headaches for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the midst of the midterm campaign season.

They have pointed to House GOP leader Eric Cantor's (Va.) pledge in August that a Republican-led House would have a "zero tolerance" policy toward ethics violations.

"Apparently Republican Leaders like John Boehner and Eric Cantor didn’t really mean zero tolerance for scandals and expanding criminal investigations into their own members like Congressman David Rivera," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Now they’ll tolerate it, but I’m sure it’s just this once." 

Boehner's comments came on the same day that Rivera's longtime aide, Alina Garcia, was reportedly subpoenaed as part of the investigation being carried out by the Florida attorney's office.  

Most of the $500,000 in secret payments were allegedly made in 2008 from Flagler Dog Track to Millennium Marketing, which is co-managed by Rivera's 70-year-old mother.

Then, Rivera helped run a campaign backed by the dog track to help win approval for slot machines at certain gambling venues in Miami-Dade County. At the time, Rivera was a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

Rivera has denied accepting any payments. The House Ethics Committee has not taken up the matter, since it is under investigation by outside law enforcement.