David Rivera Cleared of State Charges Thanks to Lax Rules, Statute of Limitations UPDATE
No one really disputes the facts: While he was a powerful state representative, David Rivera accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars for an obscure post as a state "committeeman." Investigators say he spent at least $65,000 from the funds on dry cleaning, dental bills, pet care, and even travel costs for a girlfriend.
But Rivera -- who recently has earned nods as the "most corrupt" member of Congress -- will face no charges in either case. Both the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have thrown in the towel, citing a loophole in state laws and a restrictive statute of limitations.
Rivera is not totally out of the woods: A federal investigation into how Magic City Casino ended up paying $510,000 to a company owned by Rivera's mom is still open.
But for a guy whose congressional career looked about as likely to survive as the dodo, Rivera must be feeling pretty damn good this morning. Not only is the state investigation off his back, but also the highly vulnerable Republican's opponent in this fall's race for a newly redistricted seat dropped out in a huff with Democratic officials last month.
Essentially, state prosecutors decided Rivera hadn't necessarily broken any laws by raising hundreds of thousands for his state committeeman post, the Miami Herald reports.
Although Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle hasn't issued a close-out memo yet, the FDLE confirmed to the paper that the case is closed.
Prosecutors evidently weren't sure they could prove that Rivera spent his campaign funds on personal expenses and not legit political costs. What's more, Florida has a two-year statute of limitations on campaign-related fraud, so investigators couldn't go too far into Rivera's past.
And state law apparently allows for virtually unlimited fundraising for the shadowy position of state "committeeman," so Rivera likely broke no laws by funneling cash into the campaign account.
The congressman's spokesman hammered the FDLE over the investigation.
"FDLE launched a fishing expedition that became a wild goose chase," Rivera's office said in a statement sent to the Herald. "FDLE's unprofessional waste of taxpayer dollars in this matter is shameful."