Congressman David Rivera’s longtime aide, Alina Garcia, was subpoenaed in a criminal investigation tied to the lawmaker’s financial relationship with a dog track, two sources familiar with the subpoena tell the Miami Herald and the Herald/Times.
But Garcia, who finally responded after we posted word of the subpoena, said in an email that the report is "false. No subpoena."Rivera won’t respond to inquires about the investigation, which is now causing him trouble in Washington political circles, according to Politico.
So who's telling the truth? We will see. But Garcia's saying this on the record (the other folks aren't), so we've got to give her the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, we understand the subpoena was for records (a law-enforcement records-request, if you will), not for Garcia to actually appear before a grand jury.
Still, investigators are examining Rivera and one reason they might look at Garcia is the fact that they’re examining a company founded by her daughter, Alyn Cruz Higgins. The company, ACH Fundraising Strategies received $75,000 from Rivera’s defunct state Senate campaign, which he abandoned after launching his congressional bid.
What did ACH do for all that money? It said “thank you.”
The money was for a “thank you campaign,” a permitted expenditure for a candidate to make after his campaign is over. And it wasn’t the only time Rivera said thanks with so much cash. He was the most thankful lawmaker in the Legislature from 2004 to 2010, when he spent almost $243,000 in campaign donations on ``thank you'' expenses -- accounting for almost one-quarter of all the thank-you money spent in Florida during that period, a Miami Herald analysis of state campaign data found. (Full story is here)
Higgins’ attorney, Robert Fernandez, declined to provide The Miami Herald with its invoices, saying they were ``confidential.''
``Any negative inference in your article about the services provided by ACH Strategies would be based purely on misinformation and/or speculation considering that ACH Strategies has not released its business records,'' Fernandez said in his statement
ACH wasn’t the only firm that helped Rivera out. In 2006, the legislator spent $15,000 on a ``thank you'' campaign and $15,000 more for consulting to a company called Millennium Marketing -- a company co-owned by Rivera's 70-year-old mother and his godmother.
Unlike ACH, Millennium Marketing is at the center of the criminal probe. Millennium received more than $500,000 in secret payments from the Flagler Dog Track as part of an agreement with Rivera to manage a political campaign on behalf of parimutuels seeking voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County in 2007.
Rivera long maintained that he received no income from his work for the track. But earlier this month, he acknowledged receiving $132,000 from Millennium -- payments Rivera had not previously disclosed in financial forms.
Rivera said the payments were loans from his mother's company, which he repaid after he won election to Congress on Nov. 2. Rivera has said he did not believe he was obliged to report the loans under state and federal disclosure rules.
Rivera amended his financial disclosures after the Herald reported the investigation. Months before, he amended his legislative financial disclosures after the Herald found he was declaring income from US AID, which said it had no record of ever paying him.