Apr 20, 2012
David Rivera Exonerated? Not so much.
Despite Congressman David Rivera’s (FL-26) claims that he was exonerated, the State Attorney’s Office found Rivera engaged in “questionable financial practices” at a time when he still faces investigations from the IRS and FBI for possible tax evasion. While the State’s Attorney’s Office was unable to prosecute Rivera’s offensive financial practices because of legal loopholes, investigators found Rivera double dipped Florida taxpayers for $30,000, caught Rivera lying multiple times about his employment and identified “potential ethical violations” related to a “secret contract” to expand gambling in Miami-Dade County.
“The State Attorney’s Office established that Rivera engaged in ‘questionable financial practices,’ and notably, Rivera is still the focus of an FBI and IRS probe for possible tax evasion,” said Stephanie Formas of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney’s Office report only further revealed that Rivera cannot hide from his extensive record of cover ups, lies, and the fact that he stole nearly $30,000 from Florida taxpayers.”
State Attorney Found Rivera Engaged in “Questionable Financial Practices.” “State prosecutors say they won't charge Republican Congressman David Rivera with a crime, but the 16-page memo they issued outlining allegations of questionable financial practices will make his re-election campaign more difficult.” [Associated Press, 4/19/12]
Rivera Continues to Be Under Investigation by FBI and IRS for Possible Tax Evasion. “Federal authorities are interviewing witnesses in connection with an investigation into possible tax evasion by South Florida U.S. Rep. David Rivera, people with knowledge of the investigation said Friday. FBI and IRS agents are looking at whether taxes were paid on a secret $1 million contract Rivera signed in 2006 to manage a successful campaign to expand gambling in Miami-Dade County, attorneys told The Associated Press. Among those being interviewed is attorney Lori Weems, who helped draw up a contract between the owners of the Flagler Dog Track - now known as the Magic City Casino - and a company linked to Rivera. Rivera signed the contract but has denied receiving any money from the deal. The company linked to Rivera was started by his mother, then run by a family friend who later rehired his mother as vice president. [...] The Miami congressman was clearly chosen by Magic City Casino’s owners to run the multi-million dollar campaign to bring Las Vegas-style slot machines to the county, according to the contract. Rivera, 45, or his mother's company would have had to pay taxes on any income received.” [Miami Herald, 7/22/11; Miami Herald, 4/17/12; Miami Herald, 4/18/12]
Rivera Double Dipped the Taxpayers of Florida on Travel Expenses. Rivera “charged travel expenses to both his campaign accounts and his legislative office account — resulting in $29,500 in double-billing from 2006 to 2010, the records show. But prosecutors said they could not charge Rivera with felony theft, because state law says any charges based on false travel vouchers must only be misdemeanors — and must be prosecuted within two years of the offense.” The State Attorney’s office founds that these transactions were “potential theft from the state.” [FDLE Investigative Summary, 7/29/11; Miami Herald, 4/18/12; State Attorney’s Office Memorandum on David Rivera, 4/17/12]
Main Reason Rivera was Not Charged was Because of “Ambiguities in the State’s Campaign Finance Laws and a Shortened Statue of Limitations.” “FDLE last year suspected Rivera of ‘possible criminal and ethical violations,’ ranging from campaign fraud to falsifying financial disclosure forms, prosecutors have concluded that they cannot charge the Miami congressman with any crimes because of ambiguities in the state’s campaign finance laws and a shortened statute of limitations that barred prosecution for expenses more than two years old […] Investigators examined Rivera’s campaign expenses going as far back as 2004. However, a two-year statute of limitations on campaign violations prevented prosecutors from pursuing a case based on any suspected violations prior to Rivera’s 2010 campaign.” [Miami Herald, 4/17/12]
Rivera “Purposefully Falsified His Financial Disclosure Forms.” “Analysis of documents obtained to date supports the contention that Mr. Rivera purposely falsified his financial disclosure forms in an attempt to legitimize other source of income beyond his salary as a State Legislator.” [FDLE Investigative Summary, 7/29/11]
Rivera Lied About Receiving Income. The FDLE report stated that Rivera falsely claimed he earned income from both Millennium Marketing and Interamerican Government Relations. “FDLE reviewed bank records for Millennium Marketing Strategies from 2004 to present (even though it was an inactive corporation during this time) and discovered that no payments had been made to Mr. Rivera.” IGR, a Puerto Rican based company established by Rivera in 2003, had filed no annual reports with the Puerto Rican Department of State. Rivera’s disclosure forms identified the United States Agency for International Development as the major source of income for IGR, though “USAID had no records of Mr. Rivera or IGR being compensated as a vendor/contractor by their organization.” [FDLE Investigative Summary, 7/29/11]