The year-long Miami-Dade state attorney’s office investigation into Congressman David Rivera’s personal and campaign finances has stalled over questions about more than $100,000 in undisclosed campaign donations that appear to fall under a little-known loophole in Florida’s campaign-finance laws.
Rivera collected the money not for a political office but for a campaign he mounted for an obscure position within the Republican Party: Miami-Dade Executive Committeeman. Campaigns for party posts are not governed by state election laws, allowing Rivera to raise and spend as much money as he wanted without public disclosure or contribution limits.
That exception could make it difficult for investigators to charge Rivera with any wrongdoing, if the money they had been investigating turns out to be unregulated by state law.
State prosecutors, working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, discovered the funds while probing Rivera’s finances dating back to his years in the state House, including payments from a Miami gambling company to a firm with ties to Rivera.
For months, investigators have been examining both how Rivera raised the money and how he spent it, according to sources close to the probe. Prosecutors are also trying to determine if Rivera’s use of the money may have run afoul of other laws beyond the campaign-finance statutes, the sources said.
Rivera, a first-term congressman, is also the subject of a second criminal probe by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Plagued by the investigations, Rivera, a once-prolific fundraiser, has struggled to bring in money for his congressional re-election bid.
Rivera’s campaign responded to a list of questions e-mailed by The Miami Herald with a two-sentence statement.
“Any money raised and spent in relation to Congressman Rivera’s campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida state executive committee was done with the strictest adherence to all applicable legal requirements and any suggestion to the contrary is completely false,” the statement said. “Congressman Rivera has at all times acted in compliance with both the letter and spirit of campaign finance regulations and has timely, properly and publicly reported all personal income.”