MIAMI (AP) _ Days before he is to be sworn in as a freshman member of Congress, David Rivera released documents Monday he said were aimed at clearing up questions about his income and financial relationship to a successful campaign to expand slot machine gambling in South Florida.
The Miami Republican, whose is expected to take his oath Wednesday, filed amended state ethics forms and also released his U.S. House of Representatives financial disclosure form for 2010 _ well ahead of a May 15 deadline.
Rivera’s finances have triggered skeptical news stories and months of criticism from political opponents. His office issued a statement that the steps were intended “to dispel any speculation surrounding his personal finances.”
Much of the scrutiny _ including an inquiry from the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office _ has revolved around a contract Rivera signed to run a multimillion-dollar 2008 campaign to expand slot machines, but which he never listed on his disclosure forms.
Rivera insisted he never received any income from the $500,000 contract, which was arranged through a firm called Millenium Marketing Strategies that was co-managed by Rivera’s 70-year-old mother and run out of the condominium of a family friend. “Not one penny,” Rivera told The Associated Press on Monday.
Rivera’s documents submitted Monday show that he had a contingency loan from Millenium for between $100,001 and $250,000 that was repaid last year.
Rivera said the loan totaled $137,000 and predated the slot machine contract and that his repayment was contingent on when he left the Florida House of Representatives and/or joined the Millenium firm. The firm had been inactive until weeks before the slot machine contract was established.
Rivera ran for Congress instead of joining the firm. Rivera said he received the loan in four installments between 2007 and 2010.
State prosecutors are investigating Rivera’s finances, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. They insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case. The investigation was first reported by The Miami Herald and CBS4.
Rivera spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said in a statement: “Mr. Rivera has not been contacted about any investigation, nor do we believe there are any grounds for an investigation.”
The contract, reviewed by the AP, makes clear Millennium was hired to get Rivera, who became Millennium’s liaison with South West Florida Enterprises Inc. The campaign was conducted to convince Miami-Dade voters to approve slot machines at what was then a dog track and is now known as Magic City Casino.
Rivera’s finances first drew public scrutiny shortly before the November elections, following media reports he had listed contracts with the U.S. Agency for International Development on financial disclosure forms covering 2003 to 2009. Those forms, which elected officials must file with the state, listed work done on behalf of a Puerto Rico-based company he helped found in 2002.
Rivera has refused to say what work he did for the company, InterAmerican Government Relations, and USAID said it had no record of him or the company.
Shortly after the reports regarding Rivera’s state financial disclosure forms were published in October, he amended them, removing any reference to work outside his position as state representative.
According to the documents submitted Monday, which give wide ranges in most categories, Rivera said that in 2010 he received just over $25,000 from the state for his work in the House. They say he also got between $100,001 and $250,000 from the sale of Miami real estate; between $15,001 and $50,000 from the redemption of U.S. savings bonds; between $8,000 and $22,500 from the sale of stock in several companies including Time Warner, Terramark and Mastec; and $1,000 or less from renting a Tallahassee property.
He listed as a liability a mortgage on a Tallahassee residence of between $100,001 and $250,000.
Some of the Democrats raising questions about Rivera’s finances have even urged House Republican leaders to hold off on appointing him to the House Foreign Affairs Committee until things are cleared up.
Rivera said Monday’s filings should take care of that.
“I am completely focused on doing my job as a congressman. Neither the Democrats nor anyone else is going to distract me from doing the work of the 25th congressional district,” Rivera said in an interview.