June 03, 2015

Marco Rubio, David Rivera sell Tallahassee home

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio and David Rivera have sold the house the owned together in Tallahassee, a property that for years tied the Florida senator to the former Miami congressman.

The two friends sold the house this week for $117,000, a Rubio aide confirmed Wednesday to the Miami Herald. The sale was first reported by Politico.

Rubio and Rivera had listed the house in March for $125,000. They had bought it in March 2005 for $135,000. It briefly entered foreclosure proceedings before the former Tallahassee roommates settled the matter.

The house has been a drag on Rubio, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, who has been repeatedly tied to the embattled Rivera, who is the target of a federal criminal investigation into campaign-finance shenanigans. Rivera has appealed a separate state ethics finding against him.

Rubio has also faced scrutiny over his finances, including the underwater mortgage on the Tallahassee home.

As of Wednesday morning, the Leon County property appraiser still listed Rubio and Rivera as the joint owners.

This post and headline have been updated.

June 02, 2015

News Service of Florida: David Rivera appeals Florida ethics case

From the News Service of Florida:

Former state lawmaker and Congressman David Rivera has given formal notice that he will take a long-running ethics case to an appeals court, according to an online docket.

Rivera filed a notice of appeal last week in the case, which has included allegations that the Miami Republican was improperly reimbursed for state travel and did not adequately disclose financial information.

The state Commission on Ethics in April backed an administrative law judge's recommendation that Rivera should pay about $58,000 in fines and restitution, though the ultimate decision about penalties would be made by the state House speaker.

The online docket at the 1st District Court of Appeal does not provide details of the arguments in the appeal. 

Rivera, who served a single term in Congress, was a state House member from 2002 to 2010. The ethics case deals with his time in the Legislature.

April 17, 2015

Commission approves $58K in fines for former state representative David Rivera

Without any debate, members of the state ethics commission on Friday agreed that former U.S. Rep. David Rivera should pay $57,821.96 for improperly accepting state money for travel when he served as a state representative.

It will now be up to the Florida House to decide whether to penalize its former member.

Rivera, who was in Tallahassee Friday but did not attend the ethics hearing, declined to comment on the final order from the ethics commission. But his attorney Leonard Collins called it "expected," and said he planned to appeal to the First District Court of Appeal.

"This is a really unfortunate case," Collins said, raising a host of concerns about how the ethics commission handled Rivera's case.

More here.

March 19, 2015

Friends call memo smearing David Rivera prosecutor untrue

@PatriciaMazzei @jayhweaver

Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera wrote a purported memo to himself last year that portrayed the prolonged criminal investigation against him as a political witch hunt — and the lead prosecutor as an ambitious lawyer who put his career ahead of his ethics.

But the memo appears to be largely fictional — at least the malicious allegations Rivera makes about the veteran federal prosecutor, Thomas J. Mulvihill. Two men named in the explosive memo strongly disputed to the Miami Herald the alleged conversations they had with Rivera and Mulvihill a few years ago to plot out the prosecutor’s quest to become U.S. attorney in South Florida.

“I can guarantee that that never came up,” said one of the men, Felix Rodriguez, an ex-CIA officer and Bay of Pigs Veterans Association president.

“David missed his calling,” said the second man, Sergio Pereira, a longtime government lobbyist who once served as Miami-Dade County manager. He then made reference to a celebrated author who counts a novel about Miami among his top works: “He’s a regular Tom Wolfe.”

The memo claims Mulvihill, while investigating Rivera for suspected tax evasion in 2012, wanted the congressman to put in a good word with Rivera’s friend, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has the power to recommend candidates for U.S. attorney. Rivera never took Mulvihill’s request to Rubio, according to the memo, which also noted that Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election.

More here.

March 16, 2015

Marco Rubio, David Rivera put Tallahassee house on sale

@PatriciaMazzei

The financial relationship that continues to tie potential Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to his old, embattled friend, former U.S. Rep. David Rivera -- a house they own together in Tallahassee -- could soon come to an end.

The two men have placed the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on sale for $125,000, as first reported by Politico.

They have attempted to sell the house before, to no avail. Their renter recently moved out, so they're trying again, now that neither former state lawmaker works in Tallahassee. (Rivera, however, has said he intends to run for the Florida House of Representatives again next year.)

No longer sharing a deed with Rivera could also help Rubio as he prepares to possibly run for president. The home, purchased in 2005 during the housing bubble, created a headache for Rubio five years ago, when a bank began foreclosure proceedings against him and Rivera after they failed to pay the mortgage for several months. The case was quickly settled, but it prompted Rubio to take a closer interest in the home payments, which had been mostly Rivera's responsibility.

Rivera has since been plagued by investigations into his personal and campaign finances.

March 05, 2015

David Rivera should pay $58K in ethics penalties, judge recommends

@PatriciaMazzei

IMG_IMG_rivera.JPG_2_1_A_8_1_OJ308QU5_L74973366 (1)Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera should be forced to pay $57,821.96 for breaking Florida ethics rules when he was a state legislator, an administrative law judge in Tallahassee recommended Thursday.

Judge David Watkins suggested Rivera, a Miami Republican who has been out of state office since 2010, pay a $16,500 fine plus $41,321.96 in restitution.

In 2012, the judge found that Rivera, who for two years served as the powerful budget chief in the Florida House of Representatives, failed to properly disclose his income and double-billed taxpayers by accepting state reimbursement for travel previously paid for by his campaign account.

The recommendation will go to the Florida Commission on Ethics, which will issue a final order. Any penalty would ultimately have to be imposed by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican served with Rivera from 2008-10.

Rivera said Friday he intends to contest the judge’s recommendation.

“This is a long way from over and I have not yet begun to fight!” he wrote in an email to the Miami Herald.

Rivera, who was elected to Congress in 2010 but lost in 2012, has since proclaimed his intention to run for the Florida House again next year.

Rivera denied wrongdoing when he was initially charged with 11 ethics violations in October 2012. He successfully disputed four of the charges, bringing the number down to seven. His last appeal wound up at the ethics commission in September. Rivera sought to delay the case, but exasperated commissioners said they had had enough. They rejected his request and asked Judge Watkins to determine penalties.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald

This post has been updated.

February 03, 2015

Alliegro testifies against ex-Rep. David Rivera and wonders: Where's the indictment?

@MarcACaputo

David Rivera’s former girlfriend repeatedly told a federal grand jury that the ex-congressman was the mastermind behind a complicated campaign finance scheme that landed her and another in prison.

Nearly two dozen times, Ana Alliegro says, she testified that Rivera supplied more than $81,000 used in the crime, that he plotted the cover-up and he then helped her twice escape to a getaway in Nicaragua.

Yet she’s angry Rivera has yet to be indicted, despite her hour-long Dec. 18 testimony and a mountain of evidence: corroborating witnesses, a trove of emails, a handwritten note from Rivera and even fingerprints. Also, a federal judge last year demanded Rivera be named in open court.

“Are politicians above the law? I don’t get it,” Alliegro told the Miami Herald in an interview. Rivera, who has long maintained his innocence, couldn’t be reached.
Alliegro said she suspects that Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Mulvihill’s phlegmatic pace has delayed the prosecution of the crime, which was first uncovered by the Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

“I think Mulvihill is the reason he hasn’t been charged,” Alliegro said.

Alliegro pointed to a memo, which she said Rivera authored, that claimed Mulvihill approached the then-Republican congressman in June 2011 when the prosecutor said he was “bitter and disappointed” because, years earlier, he had not been appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Rivera allegedly claimed that go-betweens of Mulvihill later wanted Rivera to advocate on his behalf with the congressman’s longtime friend, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, if Republican Mitt Romney became president the following year.

Asked by email about the issue and the state of the case against Rivera, Mulvihill didn’t respond. But a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office did. “While we have no comment on this investigation, the specific allegations about AUSA Mulvihill referenced in your e-mail are completely false,” Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos wrote.

More here

December 04, 2014

David Rivera still hasn't reported how he paid for campaign robocalls

@PatriciaMazzei

Another financial reporting deadline has come and gone for this year's political candidates -- which means another deadline has come and gone in which David Rivera has yet to report how much he paid for automated telephone calls to voters.

The robocalls, featuring Rivera himself speaking in Spanish, were the only politicking Rivera did this summer after placing his short-lived campaign on hold. The Miami Republican briefly ran for his old congressional seat.

At the time, Rivera hadn't reported raising any money. That hasn't changed since. His Dec. 1 report continues to list $0 contributions.

November 14, 2014

Tale of the tail: David Rivera calls cops on mysterious follower

@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera is known in Florida political circles to be a bit... paranoid.

But, as the saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.

When Rivera left his home in a Miami suburb on Friday and thought somebody was following him, he turned out to be right. He had a shadow.

Here's what happened, according to accounts pieced together by the Miami Herald.

As he pulled out of his driveway, Rivera spotted a middle-aged man in a white SUV inside his Doral gated community. The SUV followed him out the gate. It was still behind him when Rivera drove to a nearby SunTrust Bank branch.

Alarmed, Rivera lined up someone to witness the tail. The witness was tasked with following the follower.

Rivera drove to a nearby Starbucks. So did the SUV. So did the witness.

Convinced the man in the SUV was after him, Rivera dialed 911 on his way back home. This time, the SUV didn't go into the gated community. But it did park by a side entrance.

Continue reading "Tale of the tail: David Rivera calls cops on mysterious follower" »

November 04, 2014

David Rivera hits Election Day polls in Miami -- even though he's not on the ballot

@PatriciaMazzei  IMG_3433 (1)

Never mind that he lost his Miami congressional seat two years ago, and placed fourth out of five in this year's Republican primary to try to get it back.

Ex-Rep. David Rivera hit the polls anyway on Election Day in Southwest Miami-Dade County -- clad in a white polo shirt with "Congressman David Rivera" and the U.S. House of Representatives logo embroidered over his heart.

Misleading? Perhaps. He also wore it when he campaigned in the GOP primary for the 26th congressional district in August.

"What are you running for?" an elderly Cuban-American man asked Rivera in Spanish before walking into the precinct. "God bless you."

Rivera isn't running for anything, but he was collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot -- in 2016, as a Florida House of Representatives candidate. He would run in the district currently represented by state Rep. Frank Artiles, a Republican who won't be term-limited in two years and whom Rivera backs, suggesting the former congressman expects Artiles to run for something else, perhaps Miami-Dade County Commission.

IMG_3431 (1)In addition to the petitions, Rivera handed out yellow slate cards titled "Republican Voter Alert!" The next line read, "As a Life-Long Republican, Congressman David Rivera Recommends." For his former seat, he endorsed Republican Carlos Curbelo, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia.

The card said "Paid for by David Rivera" at the bottom, which is not exactly how disclaimers on political advertisements are supposed to read. It should identify the piece as an independent expenditure. And if Rivera spent more than $5,000 on them -- doubtful -- then he'd have to report the spending. Then again, he never did report how he paid for robocalls during the primary campaign.