Thursday, October 25, 2012
Carmel on the Case: David Rivera ethics charges
With the election just around the corner, a South Florida congressman fighting to keep his seat, is now accused of engaging in some controversial conduct. But as investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero shows us, David Rivera says he's done nothing wrong.
WSVN -- Before he was a member of congress, David Rivera was a state legislator. And according to Florida's Ethics Commission, during the time he served in the house of representatives, Rivera may have violated ethics laws eleven ways.
Among them: Taking money when he knew or should have known it was given to influence his vote. Of misusing campaign money for non campaign expenses. Of misusing his position to request or accepted state money to pay for travel that had already been paid, and not reporting or properly reporting income from 2005 to 2009.
David Rivera: "It is shameful on the part of this commission to take this action now."
The congressman was quick to react.
David Rivera: "These allegations have already been dismissed by other authorities. There is no doubt they will similarly be dismissed in this case because they have no foundation."
The ethics allegations aren't Rivera's only headache. He has repeatedly denied widespread reports he is being investigated by the FBI in connection with the campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad.
David Rivera: "No federal authority has ever stated that David Rivera is under investigation for anything."
Sternad is a hotel worker who ran unsuccessfully against Rivera's rival Democrat Joe Garcia. At issue, did Rivera secretly help finance that campaign?
David Rivera: "I've made various statements on this matter."
In August Congressman Rivera refused repeatedly, to say yes or no to questions about any involvement in Sternad's campaign.
Carmel Cafiero: "Did you or did not not support this man?"
David Rivera: "Well as you know Carmel, I've issued several statements on this matter."
Carmel Cafiero: Did you or did you not support this man in any way in his campaign?
David Rivera: "Carmel, you're very aware I've issued a statement on this matter."
Carmel Cafiero: "We can't get a yes or a no?"
David Rivera: "I've made a very important decision by going forward with the campaign."
Two reporters asked the congressman for a yes or no 10 times.
Carmel Cafiero: "You're standing here talking to me, why won't you say yes or no?"
David Rivera: "And the statements I have made."
His office later sent a statement indicating Rivera had nothing to do with Sternad. The ethics violations are not criminal issues, they're civil. Rivera could be fined up to $10,000 per charge, or he could challenge them and be cleared.
David Rivera: "I think voters will see right through this as a political game, a political motivation on the part of this commission to try and influence this election, and they'll stay focused on issues that really matter, jobs and the economy that really matter."
"But the larger question is, with less than two weeks before the election, what impact will all this have on Rivera's reelection bid, if any. Carmel Cafiero 7 News."
Mr. Rivera's opponent Joe Garcia, released a statement: "Mr. Rivera's 11 charges of breaking the law is embarrassing to our entire community. Enough is enough. It is time for us to move forward in a positive way."
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