On Jan. 3, 2011, days before taking his seat in Congress, Miami Republican David Rivera filed financial documents in Washington he said would “dispel any speculation” about his personal finances.
But the documents didn’t mention the $18,000 Rivera owed at the time to his mother’s business partner, records show. One day after filing the forms, according to the records, Rivera received $20,000 from his mother, put it in a campaign account, and later used the money to pay off the business partner’s loan.
This was one example of the financial maze the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office encountered in their 18-month investigation of the congressman’s finances. The agencies closed their investigation of Rivera last week without filing criminal charges against him.
Rivera, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, remains under investigation by the FBI and IRS.
In a memo wrapping up their case, Miami-Dade prosecutors said Rivera “essentially live[d] off” campaign contributions for almost a decade while serving as a part-time state lawmaker, paying mortgages on four different properties and jetting around the globe though he never held a full-time job or earned more than $28,000 a year.
So how did he do it?
Newly released FDLE investigative reports show that Rivera used back-dated campaign records, a web of bank accounts and undisclosed loans, a batch of credit cards and misleading disclosure forms to disguise his finances from the public eye during much of his eight-year tenure in the Florida Legislature.
Rivera, once the powerful budget chief in the state House of Representatives, also collected at least $175,000 in undisclosed donations for a perpetual campaign as a Miami-Dade committeeman with the state Republican Party — money Rivera frequently used to pay for meals and travel, including plane tickets for his then-girlfriend, the records show.
Other expenses Rivera called “campaign related,” the records show, included $105 for show tickets at a medieval-themed casino in Las Vegas, and $360 for tickets to an off-Broadway show in New York. The title: Perfect Crime.