Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Democratic donor seeks to disqualify David Rivera from congressional ballot

MIAMI — Allies of Democratic congressional candidate Joe Garcia filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to kick GOP candidate David Rivera off the Nov. 2 ballot for filing misleading financial disclosure forms as a state lawmaker.

The suit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, says Rivera should be disqualified from running for office for violating state laws requiring public officials and candidates to file full and complete financial disclosure forms.

For seven years, Rivera, a four-term state representative, declared in his disclosure forms that he was a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development. However, USAID has no record of ever hiring Rivera or his company. On Friday, Rivera amended his disclosure forms to omit USAID as a source of income.

"The misstatements in the Rivera financial disclosure statements are part of a pattern of deception intended to confuse the voters and the public at large," the complaint says. ''Rivera has failed to comply with the most basic statutory requirement of explaining how he makes a living."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Miami attorney William Barzee — who has donated thousands of dollars to Garcia and the Democratic Party over the years — and Maria Teresa Pascual, a voter who lives in Congressional District 25, an area stretching from Miami-Dade to Collier County that Garcia and Rivera are vying to represent.

The suit is being handled by three lawyers, including Coral Gables attorney Roland Sanchez-Medina. Garcia has worked as a consultant for Sanchez-Medina's law firm, records show.

Responding to the suit, Rivera's campaign lashed back at Garcia, declaring that the suit shows that Garcia has "conceded defeat."

"In his fervor to win Garcia will do anything," Rivera's spokeswoman, Leslie Veiga, said in a statement. "Even if it means circumventing the democratic process and suing his way into office."

"The complaint has no merit and we are confident that it will be thrown out," she added.

Garcia's campaign manager, Jeffrey Garcia, said the campaign worked at "arm's length'' with the lawyers handling the lawsuit.

"Several attorneys and supporters brought the idea to us'' after a Tallahassee judge tossed state Senate candidate Jim Norman off the ballot last week for violating disclosure rules, said Garcia, who is not related to the candidate.

"Folks in the community have been incensed that David is refusing to answer these questions, refusing to divulge where he makes his money and who his employers are."

The allegations in the lawsuit are based largely on the findings of an Oct. 13 Miami Herald article examining Rivera's consulting work. USAID officials told the Herald that the agency had no records showing that Rivera or his consulting company had ever worked for USAID — though Rivera said in his disclosure forms that he received income from USAID from 2003 to 2009.

When first asked about his consulting work, Rivera said he won the USAID contracts through competitive bidding. After learning that USAID had no record of his work, Rivera then said he worked as a subcontractor to other USAID vendors. But Rivera will not disclose the names of these contractors, saying he promised them confidentiality.

On Friday, Rivera amended his disclosure forms, removing any reference to USAID as a source of income for those seven years. His campaign has said he was not required under ethics rules to disclose his work with USAID, and he removed the USAID references "in an abundance of caution."

The amended disclosure forms also erased any mention of another consulting company, Millennium Marketing, with whom Rivera said he worked with from 2003 to 2005. Records show that Rivera's mother is now a partner in Millennium. Rivera also paid the company $30,000 from his campaign account in 2006, records show.

Rivera's amended disclosure forms from 2003 to 2009 now list no outside sources of income for the lawmaker beyond his $30,000 salary as a state representative.

Under Florida's disclosure rules, lawmakers must report the sources of any income exceeding $1,000. Lawmakers also must list any clients who contribute more than 10 percent to their private businesses.

After amending his disclosures, Rivera told the Herald that he did not need to list his consulting clients because they did not meet the state's criteria, though he would not detail which criterion applied in his case.

Rivera also said he was not required to disclose business activity outside the state of Florida. However, the state rules do not exempt out-of-state businesses from disclosure, said Kerrie Stillman, a spokesperson for the Florida Commission on Ethics.

With their lawsuit, Barzee and Pascual are seeking to duplicate the case of Norman, a Republican state Senate candidate from the Tampa area who was thrown off the ballot Friday by a Tallahassee judge for failing to disclose a $500,000 gift.

Norman, a Hillsborough County commissioner, is now appealing Fulford's decision.

Democratic donor seeks to disqualify David Rivera from congressional ballot 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 4:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    In their third year with pitching coach Neil Allen, the Twins have been one of the surprises of the American League.
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

    Crime

    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally