Freshman congressman, David Rivera, from Florida’s 25th district, was sworn in this week amid an unfolding controversy regarding previously undisclosed loans from a company controlled by his mother and godmother, which is under investigation by the state attorney’s office, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Rivera’s troubles are connected to a consulting contract that he secured in 2006 while a member of Florida’s House of Representatives. The company, Millennium Marketing, owned by his mother, Daisy Magarino, and godmother, Ileana Medina, is at the center of the criminal investigation. Authorities are trying to determine if Rivera illegally received monies from the company.
Rivera orchestrated a marketing campaign to help the Flagler Dog Track and other pari-mutuel venues in Miami-Dade County win voter approval for Las Vegas-style slot machines. Rivera allegedly convinced Flagler to enter into a contract with Millennium Marketing, a company then-owned by Medina, and formed just weeks before the contract was executed in October 2006.
The contract between Flagler and Millennium required that Rivera render substantial services, as outlined in detail in the agreement.
Rivera repeatedly denied receiving any compensation from the deal, which ultimately yielded $510,000 for Millennium Marketing. Rivera’s state-required financial disclosure forms filed during the period showed no compensation other than the $30,000 received as a member of the state House.
On Dec. 16, Rivera filed new financial disclosure forms with the U.S. House of Representatives showing that he received loans totaling $132,000 from Millennium between 2007 and 2010. The filing of the forms, he says, were made “out of an abundance of caution” and just became public earlier this week.
Prior to the Nov. 1 congressional election, Rivera amended his financial disclosure forms for the previous seven years, to remove the listing of the U.S. Agency for International Development as an employer, after the agency told media that Rivera never worked there.
On Monday, Rivera filed amended disclosure forms again, this time with the Florida Commission on Ethics, showing the Millennium loans for the first time.
Although both federal and state election laws required financial disclosure of loans and liabilities, Rivera claimed that he didn’t feel that he was required to disclosure the loans on his earlier financial disclosure filings.
Rivera claimed that the loans were were exempt from standard disclosure requirements, because they were contingent on him going to work for Millennium after he left the state legislature. Once he decided to run for Congress, the loans became due, he said.
Rivera claims that the loans were paid in full on Nov. 2, but refused to provide documentation or details of the repayment.
On Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported the latest development in the matter, saying that around the time that Rivera claimed to have paid off the loans with Millennium, he sold his Miami condominium to Millennium. The deed for the sale was recorded on December 22 and did not not indicate whether any money changed hands in the transaction. According to tax rolls, the condo was assessed at $89,000 last year. The documentary transfer tax stamp on the transaction indicated the value of the sale as $100.
The condominium is in the same building where Rivera’s mother and godmother reside.
While all the amended filings may bring Rivera in compliance with election and public office disclosure requirements, questions still remain about the flow of monies that Rivera might have received from Millennium. Rivera has refused to answer direct questions about the transaction.
“He was able to achieve the objective of concealing the loan and where it came from during the election, when it matters most to the voters and the press,” said Craig Holman, with the Washington-based Public Citizen watchdog group. “At least he declared it, but it’s something that should have been declared right away.”