In an email, Rivera declined to say how he obtained the voice mail. "The origin of the tape is irrelevant," he said.
During the TV interview, Rivera repeatedly accused Joe Garcia of being under investigation by the Federal Election Commission for campaign finance violations -- though the FEC has said no such probe exists.
Rivera is referring to financial reporting incidents the agency has flagged in letters to Garcia -- letters that candidates frequently receive and do not amount to an "investigation." Rivera has received at least one FEC letter this election asking him for additional information about his campaign funding.
Rivera also repeated mostly inaccurate claims he has made attacking Garcia's tenure on the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, and at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Garcia did not appear on the show. His campaign said he had accepted an invitation to a debate three weeks ago, but had later been told only Garcia would appear because Rivera had not responded to the same invitation.
When Garcia's campaign was informed Saturday night that Rivera would show up after all, it declined the invitation, citing insufficient time to prepare.
Rivera accused Garcia of "corruption." Garcia's campaign said the record shows that Rivera is the one with ethical issues.
For at least a year, Rivera has been under investigation by the FBI and IRS over his personal and campaign finances, which were also probed by state authorities. The state investigation closed earlier this year without any of 52 drafted charges filed against the first-term Miami Republican congressman.
Email records from that investigation refer to federal authorities conducting interviews in the case. And they show that Rivera had hired a defense attorney who was working on the case for two months while Rivera repeatedly denied to reporters that he knew of the investigation.
Earlier this weekend, Garcia and Rivera appeared in separate segments on WPBT-PBS 2's Issues with Helen Ferre.
When Putney asked Rivera about opposing the DREAM Act -- stalled legislation in Congress that would provide a path citizenship to young people brought into the U.S. illegally as children by their parents -- the congressman said that was "quite inaccurate."
"What I said during the 2010 campaign is that the DREAM Act...was something that we needed to build upon," said Rivera, parsing his words.
In a Spanish-language campaign ad, Rivera features a DREAMer Daniela Pelaez, a recent North Miami Senior High School graduate who faced deportation because her parents brought her into the country from Colombia illegally as a child. She received a reprieve thanks in part to intervention from Rivera and other members of Congress.
A fiery Rivera, who takes the hard line on matters of U.S.-Cuba policy, concluded the interview by arguing for his proposal to limit travel and remittances to the island by recent Cuban immigrants.
"I am sick and tired of people coming here from Cuba -- getting welfare benefits, getting food stamps, getting Medicaid, getting housing assistance, getting cash assistance -- then taking those welfare benefits from the largesse and the charitable spirit of the American people, the American taxpayer, and then traveling back to Cuba, which is a terrorist state," he said.
Miami Herald staff writers Marc Caputo and Charles Rabin contributed to this report.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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