David Rivera discloses $137,000 in loans for slots campaign

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald


Published January 6, 2011 


U.S. Rep.-elect David Rivera said he received the loans from his mother's marketing company -- the same company under investigation for money it received from Flagler Dog Track owners for its pro-slots campaign.


Incoming Congressman David Rivera has admitted receiving $137,000 in undisclosed loans from a company co-owned by his mother -- a company now under criminal investigation over secret payments from the Flagler Dog Track during its campaign to bring slot machines to Miami-Dade pari-mutuels.

Rivera told the Associated Press in an interview Monday that he repaid the $137,000 to his mother's company, Millennium Marketing, sometime last year. Rivera also said he reported the loan in a new financial disclosure form he filed Monday with the U.S. House of Representatives, two days before he is expected to take the oath of office and begin his first term in Congress.

Rivera, a Republican from Miami, had never

Congressman-elect David Rivera

previously disclosed any loans from Millennium in financial statements filed as a congressional candidate, or during his prior tenure in the Florida legislature.

Rivera's office could not provide a copy of the new disclosure form to The Miami Herald late Monday, though the document was reviewed by the AP.

In a statement to The Herald, Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for Rivera, said he released the new disclosure statement four months earlier than required by federal law ``in order to dispel any speculation surrounding his personal finances that were raised by political opponents during the recent election and by subsequent media reports.''

However, The Herald first reported last month that Rivera's ties to Millennium and the Flagler Dog Track are part of an expanding criminal investigation of the lawmaker's finances by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In 2006, the owners of the Flagler Dog Track agreed to pay as much as $1 million to Millennium under a contract for Rivera to manage Flagler's successful political campaign to win voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade.

Flagler ultimately paid $510,000 to Millennium, which was founded by Rivera's godmother, and now includes Rivera's 70-year-old mother as an officer. Millennium's corporate address is Rivera's godmother's apartment in west Miami-Dade.

An attorney for Flagler's owners told The Herald that Rivera suggested during the contract negotiations that the contract go through Millennium, rather than to Rivera personally.

Rivera has repeatedly insisted that he received no income from Millennium for his work running the slots campaign, and he never listed any income from Millennium or Flagler in financial disclosure forms filed from 2006 to 2010.

But Rivera told the AP he did receive four loans from Millennium totaling $137,000 from 2007 to 2010. Bascom said these loans were secured with collateral, and Rivera has repaid the money ``in full with interest.''

Rivera also told the AP that the loan arrangement with Millennium predated the company's contract with Flagler. But records show that Millennium was incorporated in September 2006, only one month before the contract with Flagler was struck.

In a previous financial disclosure form filed with Congress last year, Rivera listed no loans from Millennium from January 2009 to June 2010.

All federal candidates are required to report any debts over $10,000, except those secured by a home mortgage or secured by cars, furniture, or appliances. In her statement, Bascom said Rivera secured the Millennium loans with ``personal assets,'' but did not describe the assets.

As a state lawmaker, Rivera was also required to list any debts over $1,000 except for taxes and ``contingent liabilities,'' such as potential lawsuits. Bascom said the Millennium loans were contingent liabilities.

Rivera told the AP his repayment of the debt was contingent on whether he would join Millennium when he left the Florida House, or if he would seek office again.

During his tenure in the Florida House, Rivera described himself as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development. But USAID officials told The Herald last fall that it had no record of hiring Rivera or InterAmerican Government Relations, a company Rivera founded.

In October, Rivera filed amended state disclosure forms covering seven years, omitting any reference to USAID, and listing only his $30,000 income as a state lawmaker.