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Rivera ducks debate to raise money

Republican state Rep. David Rivera skipped a debate today with his congressional rivals sponsored by the Downtown Bay Forum in Miami.

More than 100 people attended the debate, which featured Democrats Joe Garcia amd Luis Meurice and  Republicans Marili Cancio and Paul Crespo. The group's president, Annette Eisenberg, said Rivera's campaign had said he would be there.

"I paid $20 bucks for a meal he didn't eat,'' she said. "I don't think that's very responsible."

Rivera could not be immediately reached.

"We urge David Rivera to more fully embrace his responsibility to the voters of South Florida and participate more openly in the local democratic process,'' said Garcia's campaign.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Rivera's campaign, Leslie Veiga, said: "Rep. Rivera informed the forum over a month ago that he was going to be out of town due to a prior engagement." She said he was "fundraising and doing other events."