David Rivera didn't want to talk. The embattled ex-congressman had walked into a Miami clerk's office to file paperwork for a comeback bid expecting a quick photo op and a few softball questions from a Spanish-language TV crew. Instead, he found Marc Caputo and his handheld camera.
The beautifully awkward six-minute clip that resulted -- with Caputo hounding Rivera about the ongoing federal probe he'd broken and Rivera repeatedly muttering, "Email me" -- is a perfect example of the tenacity, humor, and shoe-leather reporting the political writer has brought to the Miami Herald for the past 12 years.
Caputo announced this morning he's moving on. Luckily for Florida voters, he's staying put in the Magic City and joining the growing staff of Politico.
"This is a job I just couldn't pass up," Caputo tells New Times.
Caputo joins a burgeoning newsroom of new hires at the D.C.-based political reporting giant, including fellow Miamian Michael Grunwald, who left Time last fall to become a senior staff writer for the magazine.
The Herald's lead political writer announced his departure via Twitter this morning:
Caputo, who was raised in Key West, has been reporting for the Herald since 2003, first from Tallahassee and then from the Miami mothership. Since moving up to become the Herald's lead political writer (after Beth Reinhard decamped for the National Journal), he's had a hand in a number of big breaks.
Among the biggest was his dogged reporting on Rivera and a bogus candidate set up to run in a Democratic primary against his eventual opponent, Joe Garcia. That story helped lead to federal convictions of Rivera's former associate Ana Alliegro and the fake candidate, Justin Sternad.
As a longtime Floridian, he says the decision to jump ship wasn't easy.
"I'm so excited to make the move, but a part of me is deeply sad. Some of my co'workers are the best people I've ever worked with," Caputo says in an email. "I'm leaving behind a dream job at a paper I grew up reading. I still remember being utterly captivated by a Miami Herald article about cocaine kingpin Carlos Lehder while I was supposed to be paying attention in Mr. Peterson's history class at Horace O' Bryant Middle School in Key West. The paper became part of my DNA, and I'll always carry it with me. Now I'll actually have to subscribe."
But like all Herald staffers, Caputo has also watched the daily shed staff amid its move to Doral. He made no secret that the sale of the daily's historic waterfront home hit deep.
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare.. pic.twitter.com/VwTMUsMUPi— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) January 18, 2015
What better way to bid adieu than a repeat viewing of that Rivera confrontation? Let's hope Politico doesn't take away his handheld camera.