Congressman-elect David M. Rivera (R-FL) is being investigated by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office for over $500,000 in secret payments from the owners of the Flagler Dog Track to a company tied to him, the Miami Herald reported.
Most of the money — three payments totaling $510,000 to Millennium Marketing, a company co-managed by Rivera’s 70-year-old mother — was sent by Flagler Dog Track (now called the Magic City Casino) in early 2008, weeks after Rivera helped fund a political campaign to win voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County.
Investigators are still working to determine if Rivera received any of the money himself or if anything about the transaction was illegal, the Miami Herald reported.
Reached by TPM on his cell phone, Rivera declined to answer questions about the controversy but said he’d send along a statement. We’ll update if he does.
According to the Miami Herald, Rivera’s statement says he was “designated by Millennium” to work on the slots campaign once the company his mother co-managed was hired by the dog track. The newspaper reported:
At the time the contract was signed, Millennium’s sole corporate officer was Rivera’s godmother, Ileana Medina.
But Roberto Martinez, an attorney for the dog track, said it was Rivera who first approached the track owners in 2006 asking to manage the slots campaign, and it was Rivera who suggested that the contract go through Millennium, rather than to Rivera directly. Flagler’s contract with Millennium was signed by both Rivera and Medina.
Rivera was then a member of the Florida House of Representatives and never reported receiving any money from Flagler during his eight-year stint.
Back in August, Rivera denied allegations that he was the same David M. Rivera who had a domestic-violence restraining order taken out against him back in 1994. In 2002, Rivera ran into a truck carrying negative campaign fliers which accused him of committing domestic violence and forced it off the road.
Late Update: Rivera’s office passed along this statement from spokeswoman Sarah Bascom: “In 2006, Millennium Marketing, a Miami-based company owned by a close family friend of David Rivera’s, was contracted to provide consulting services for the Flagler Dog Track and other related companies relating to the 2008 slots referendum. As part of that valid and legally executed contract, Rivera was designated by Millennium Marketing as its point of contact, acting as its on-the-ground strategic adviser. Rivera has never received income from either Flagler Dog Track, Millennium Marketing, Inc. or any other entity involved in this matter.”
“Mr. Rivera has not been contacted about any investigation, nor do we believe there are any grounds for an investigation,” Bascom added.