David Rivera admits receiving $137,000

Money came from company co-owned by mother and under criminal investigation

By Scott Hiaasen

From The Miami Herald

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 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.

Click here to read more.