For the first time, David Rivera is running for Congress without holding a political office.
So what has the former U.S. House of Representatives member been doing for the past two years to pay the bills?
"Business development," the Miami Republican said Monday night.
What that means, exactly, will for now have to remain a mystery. Rivera repeatedly refused to elaborate on his profession, saying only that he will eventually file his required financial disclosures with the House. He would not name any clients or businesses that have paid him.
"That'll all come out in the financial disclosures," Rivera told a Miami Herald reporter. "They will speak for themselves." [See the transcript of the interview below.]
Earlier this month, a Florida administrative law found that, as a state representative, Rivera violated three ethics laws, included one every year between 2005 and 2009, when he failed to properly report his income. Rivera claimed in those financial disclosures that he worked as a contractor for the U.S. Agency of International Development.
USAID had no record of ever hiring him. After the Herald asked about the discrepancy in 2010, Rivera amended the financial disclosures to delete any USAID references.
The bank records were obtained as part of a joint investigation with the Miami-Dade state attorney's office that resulted in no charges. After drafting a 52 charges against Rivera, including of theft, money laundering and racketeering, prosecutors concluded in 2012 that they could not make a case because of an expired statute of limitations and a vague state law. According to their report dropping the case, Rivera had "essentially live[d] off" of political campaign contributions.
Rivera, 48, has worked his entire adult life in politics. He was in the state House from 2002 through 2010, when, facing term limits, he won the congressional seat. He lost it in 2012.
On Monday, Rivera spoke to reporters after a GOP primary candidate forum hosted by the Women's Republican Club of Miami, Federated, at Florida International University. Rivera had not RSVP'ed for the event but showed up anyway -- an appearance that might have sparked fireworks had the forum strayed from pre-planned policy questions that left little room for any actual debate among the candidates.
Four others -- Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck -- are also running for their party's nomination against Democrat Joe Garcia.
Curbelo is also political consultant whose firm is not required to disclose its clients, as the Political Cortadito blog recently noted.
Rivera's Republican counterparts shied away from attacking him Monday. Other than a reference or two by other candidates to "integrity" and "ethics," the political hopefuls insisted they're focused on their common opponent, Garcia, and not on each other.
But it was Rivera, who had closed his forum remarks by warning about Democrats and "the media" seeking to divide Republican voters, who was swarmed by reporters eager to ask him about the ethics charges, his late start in fundraising, and his friend Ana Alliegro, who is sitting in jail as part of a federal campaign-finance investigation involving Rivera.
Rivera spoke at length but said little, maintaining that voters are uninterested in such matters and so he will continue to ignore questions that he considers outside of the issues he wants to talk about.
Below is a transcript of the portion of the interview regarding Rivera's work, to give readers a taste of how the former congressman's remarks to media went:
Miami Herald: How have you been making a living since you lost the race in 2012? What have you been doing for work?
David Rivera: Business development.
MH: Of what businesses?
DR: That’ll all come out in the financial disclosures. They will speak for themselves.
MH: Why don’t you give us a preview?
DR: Oh, because they haven’t been written yet. How can I preview -- ?
MH: Well, you know what business you do. We don’t need it in a disclosure. You could just tell us.
DR: They’ll speak for themselves. That’s why they exist.
MH: You can’t just answer a question about how you’ve been making a living?
DR: When I write them, I’ll fax it to you. When I fill it out.
MH: So who are your clients?
DR: Whenever the financial disclosures come out, all of that –-
MH: So you aren’t just willing to tell us who you’ve been working for for the past two years?
DR: When the financial disclosures come out, you’ll see all of that information. They’ll speak for themselves.