David Rivera, the Congressman-elect from Florida’s 25th congressional district, has been named in an investigation by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, according to a story in The Miami Herald. State lawyers are looking into payments totaling $510,000 that were paid to a company closely tied to Rivera, which was managed by his 70 year-old mother, Daisy Magarino, and owned by his godmother, Ileana Medina.
Investigators are trying to determine if Rivera personally received the monies, and if the transaction was illegal. Since 2002, Rivera has been a member of Florida’s House of Representatives.
Rivera worked for 16 months on Flagler's behalf, but claims he received no compensation.
The company, Millennium Marketing, was hired by the Flagler Dog Track in October 2006 to manage a campaign to win voter approval for Las Vegas style slot machines at racetracks in Miami-Dade County. According to the 2006 contract, Rivera was to be the campaign’s “top leader of chain of command of all campaign consultants and campaign activities.”
Flagler’s lawyer, Roberto Martinez, said that Rivera first approached the company in 2006, suggesting that he work on the slot machine campaign, and that it be contracted through Millennium. Records show that Millennium was incorporated on Sept. 25, 2006 by Medina, a longtime business partner of Magarino.
Martinez said his clients wanted the personal services of Rivera, and company executives never dealt with Magarino or Medina during the term of the contract. The Flagler contract was signed by both Rivera and Medina.
The contract required that Rivera spend 75 percent of his time managing the slots campaign to win voter approval. A similar measure was defeated by voters in 2005.
His duties were spelled out in the contract: gaining support of city leaders and unions, the “identification and neutralization of opposition” including competing gambling operations, animal rights groups and “the Hispanic community.” The contract was executed by both Rivera and Medina. Martinez said that his clients wanted the personal services of Rivera, and company executives never dealt with Magarino or Medina during the term of the contract.
Earlier this year, a Flagler executive, Isadore Havenick, painted a markedly different picture about Rivera’s duties. Havenick said that the company had no deal with Rivera and that “he gave us advice, but he was never hired by us.” Martinez defended Havenick’s statement saying that it wasn’t incorrect since the monies were paid directly to Millennium, not Rivera.
Flagler made its first payment of $50,000 to Millennium on Nov.1, 2006, shortly after the contract was signed. The slot machine referendum was passed by voters on Jan. 29, 2008; another payment of $210,000 was made on February 26, 2008, and one for $250,000 on March 31, 2008. Four days after the final payment was received, documents were filed naming Rivera’s mother, Magarino, a Millennium corporate officer.
Despite his involvement with Flagler and Millennium managing the slots campaign for 16 months, Rivera did not report any income from either organization between 2006 and 2008 on financial disclosure forms filed with the state ethics commission.
Instead, besides his $30,000 stipend received from the state as a member of Florida’s House of Representatives, Rivera claimed to be a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development. In October 2010, the Miami Herald reported that the agency confirmed that Rivera had never worked there. Shortly thereafter, he changed his financial disclosure forms omitting any reference to USAID, after a lawsuit was filed seeking to bar him from running for public office for filing false disclosure forms.
Rivera, Magarino and Medina have all refused to be interviewed by the Miami Herald to discuss whether any of the monies were paid to Rivera, which would be required to be publicly disclosed.
Rivera was elected to Congress on Nov. 2.
The Miami Herald