Buried amid the records compiled in the recently concluded criminal probe of Republican Congressman David Rivera is a $50,000 mystery.
Why did an obscure Republican organization pay $25,000 in 2006 to a defunct company founded by Rivera's mother? Why did a political consultant with close ties to Rivera receive another $25,000 on the very same day? And where did the money come from in the first place?
Further adding to the mystery: The Republican Party of Florida reportedly made a $50,000 payment to a Central Florida nonprofit group - money the group never received - on the same day the payments went to Rivera's mother and consultant. Are the payments connected?
These questions are among many left unanswered after an 18-month investigation of Rivera's finances by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, a probe prosecutors concluded last month without filing charges against the Miami lawmaker.
Investigators suspected Rivera of misusing campaign funds and concealing money he received while working as a consultant for a dog track seeking voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County. Rivera, who was elected to Congress in 2010 after eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, has denied any wrongdoing, and lambasted the investigation as flawed. He remains under investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.