The hits just keep coming for the newly elected Congressman from Miami.
From the Associated Press:
Freshman U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who is facing a state criminal investigation of his finances, paid himself nearly $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements over the eight years he served in the state legislature, an Associated Press examination of his records shows.
Serving as his own campaign treasurer, the Miami Republican didn’t report any details for more than a third of the roughly $160,000 in expenses for which he reimbursed himself, other than simply calling them campaign expenses, according to the records.
The AP review also shows his total reimbursements far exceeded those claimed by 12 other top Florida state legislators who served with him. Those lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – usually gave at least some explanation of how the money had been spent, as required by Florida law. Rivera denies wrongdoing.
The payments mark the latest questionable financial dealings by Rivera, whose personal and campaign finances are being investigated by state and local authorities. Rivera’s woes have drawn attention from the U.S. House’s Republican leaders, who say they are monitoring the situation.
Responding to questions about the unexplained payments, Rivera insists he followed state and federal law and never took money that wasn’t a legitimate reimbursement. It would be against state law to divert campaign donations to personal use.
“Reimbursements were for campaign-related expenditures such as travel, meals, and supplies. The campaign reports speak for themselves. All information provided was accurate and all expenses properly reported,” he said in a statement Thursday through his campaign.
But James Woodruff II, an election law expert at the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, said candidates are supposed to give some details of how they spent the money they are getting back – simply listing “campaign expenses” doesn’t cut it.
“That’s a new one. On most forms I’ve seen, they at least put ‘office expense’ or ‘travel,’” Woodruff said.
The AP’s examination of Rivera’s campaign records show that:
- In 2002, Rivera lent his campaign $45,000, for which he was reimbursed. He listed about $10,000 more in reimbursement for travel and office supplies.
- In 2004, Rivera lent the campaign nothing but received more than $10,000 in campaign reimbursements, detailing none of his expenses.
- In 2006, Rivera took $24,932 in reimbursements in regular increments throughout the campaign. But on Nov. 2, just days before the election, Rivera loaned that exact amount back to the campaign. It would seem unnecessary to give back money at the last minute for legitimate expenses.
- In 2008, Rivera’s campaign made eight reimbursements to him for $29,433, of which only $5,000 was explained, as thank-you gifts to supporters.
- In 2010, Rivera dropped a planned state Senate bid to run for an open congressional seat. His state campaign reimbursed him for $38,608, about $15,000 going to repay a loan he’d made to the campaign and to cover travel expenses. The remaining $23,000 was simply listed as campaign reimbursements.
During his congressional campaign, for which he hired a separate treasurer, Rivera did detail his reimbursements, and they were much smaller, though he initially failed to disclose any details regarding a $6,000 loan he made to the campaign.
Rivera, 45, was elected to the first of four terms in the state House in 2002 and rose to become its budget chairman before his successful bid for Congress. His finances first drew attention after it was revealed that he declared little beyond his $29,000 state salary during his years in the Florida House, along with several contracts with the U.S. Agency for International Development. He deleted those entries after USAID said it never employed him, and he then claimed he was working for USAID subcontractors. He has refused to say what he did or what he earned.
The drip, drip, drip continues…
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating Rivera’s involvement in an alleged “loans for slots” scheme involving a company owned by his mother, which “loaned” him $134,000 after he claimed to have only advised a dog track gambling initiative, rather than running it, as his contract with the track owners said.
So far, Rivera’s BFF Marco Rubio has completely escaped national media scrutiny for his very squirly finances and use of donor money to pad his lifestyle when he was a state House member and former House Speaker. Unfortunately for Rivera, the mainstream media has no interest in turning HIM into the Cuban Ronald Reagan.