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.

Update: State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has released her final report on their investigation into the politico. Click through to read the full memo.

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."

Update: In Fernandez Rundle's final report, she says her office was hampered by lax state campaign finance laws -- and by Rivera's slick answers to all their queries.

As her office checked into the allegations that he'd benefited from Flagler Dog Track's payments to his mother's company, the original loan documents -- which could have been forensically dated to check his story -- had been conveniently lost.

What's more, Rivera in interviews with prosecutors argued that virtually every dollar he spent for ten years was eligible for campaign financing because he was "continuously running for office for more than a decade."

That girlfriend whose travel he paid for out of campaign funds? She was part of his political job, as well, because "as a single male conservative, it was necessary for (Rivera) to appear at campaign related events with a female escort."

Here's the full report:
River a Closeout

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink