Ex-Florida Congressman Facing Corruption Probe Now Running for Office

PHOTO: Republican Congressional candidate David Rivera is greeted by supporters as he campaigns at an early voting site on October 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former Florida Rep. David Rivera said Thursday that he’s running for his old seat, despite the fact he’s under federal investigation for an illicit campaign-finance scheme.

The Republican’s unexpected decision to enter the race could complicate his party’s efforts to take back Florida’s 26th district, which stretches from Miami to Key West, after losing it in 2012.

Rivera lost his reelection bid in 2012 to Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia. The former congressman faces a federal probe into allegations that he was involved with a plot to plant and fund a candidate to run against Garcia in the Democratic primary. In an interview with Spanish-language Mega TV on Thursday, Rivera refused to discuss the claims, which were unearthed by the Miami Herald.

Rivera has a long history of facing allegations of corruption and improper campaign-finance plans. Some highlights (or perhaps lowlights) include secret payments allegedly made by a dog track to a company tied to Rivera related to his work on approving slot machines in South Florida and a probe into large sums of money his campaign paid to a consultant and former lobbyist. He’s denied wrongdoing in each case. You read a comprehensive list of them here.

The ex-congressman’s decision to run irked Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, national Republicans’ preferred candidate in the race.

Curbelo circulated a fundraising email that criticized both Rivera and Garcia, whose former chief of staff was jailed last year in an absentee-ballot request plot.

“I just got the news and wanted to make sure that you heard it from me: David Rivera is going to run for Congress again, despite being under investigation by federal agencies for serious allegations that, like Joe Garcia, he participated in a fraudulent scheme to influence an election,” the message reads.

Garcia’s campaign declined to comment.

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