Rep. David Rivera has been compared to a cat with nine lives.
Ever since winning his seat in 2010, the Republican Congressman from South Florida has dealt with several allegations of corruption and improper behavior ranging from crashing his car into a truck full of his opponent's campaign fliers to tax evasion. In fact, many political observers believed that Rivera wouldn't survive his first term in Congress.
Because of the controversies surrounding him, Rivera has kept a somewhat low profile during this presidential election, especially compared to his close friend, Sen. Marco Rubio. But Rivera is still standing and he faces another competitive re-election in November against Democrat Joe Garcia, the man he defeated two years ago.
With Rivera in the news again this week after being accused of secretly funding a campaign against Garcia, here's a look back at the scandalous allegations that have dogged his political career.
Aug. 2010: Rivera's crash with truck carrying opponent's political fliers resurfaces
A 2002 highway collision involving Rivera and a truck carrying fliers printed by his political opponent at the time comes under the microscope during his 2010 campaign for Congress.
The fliers reportedly tied Rivera to a 1994 domestic abuse incident
involving a "David M. Rivera" that the candidate maintains is connected to a different person of the same name.
"The 1994 case has absolutely nothing to do with me. I am not the David Rivera in that case and to suggest otherwise is a blatant and shameful lie," he said at the time in a statement that CBS News reported
Rivera hit the truck with his car, forcing it to the side of the road before it could reach the Post Office, which was closing for the day. Rivera claimed that he was trying to pull the truck off the road to get his own fliers off the vehicle after he found out the company that owned the truck also produced mailers for his opponent.
But Miami's CBS4 and the Miami Herald reported
that discrepancies existed between Rivera's account and the highway patrol report, including the location of the accident and whether Rivera was traveling with campaign staff to help retrieve the fliers.
No charges were filed against Rivera as a result of the incident.
Oct. 2010: Rivera faces questions about outside income
Rivera said in official documents that he earned outside income -- aside from his salary as a state legislator -- as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). But the Miami Herald reported
during Rivera's run for Congress that USAID had no record of hiring him.
Rivera told the Herald that he earned money as a subcontractor for USAID, which the agency reportedly does not track. The then-candidate eventually amended his personal financial disclosure forms
to remove references to USAID, according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Dec. 2010: Investigation opens into alleged secret payments to Rivera
The Miami-Dade attorney's office opens an investigation into allegations that Rivera received more than $500,000 in secret payments in 2008 related to his work in the state legislature to help win approval for slot machines in South Florida.
According to the Miami Herald
, the measure was backed by Flagler Dog Track, now known as Magic City Casino, which made payments to Millennium Marketing. The company is owned by Rivera's mother.
Rivera faced questions about whether he failed to disclose payments he received from Millennium Marketing on state and federal forms as well as payments his campaign made to the company. Rivera at first denied working for the dog track in any capacity, but later said that he had been chosen by Millennium to work on the campaign, but for no pay, according to CREW.
The FBI, IRS, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) all would eventually begin investigating the payments, as well as broader allegations of improper use and disclosure of his campaign and personal funds.
Feb. 2011: Rivera's ties to campaign consultant probed
Florida investigators begin to look into payments from Rivera's campaign committees to fundraising consultant Esther Nuhfer, which were more than $800,000 since 2006, the Miami Herald reported
Nuhfer worked as a registered lobbyist in Florida while Rivera was in the state legislature and during his time as chairman of the Miami-Dade GOP. She received $150,000 from the county party to help lead get-out-the-vote efforts in 2010, the Herald
She remained close with Rivera as he launched his campaign for Congress. Investigators examined how large chunks of the money paid to Nuhfer were spent, which was unclear from public records. She was also questioned as part of the investigation into Rivera's connections to the Flagler Dog Track, according to CREW.
Rivera and Nuhfer both denied any wrongdoing, the Herald reported.
Apr. 2012: Rivera dodges state criminal charges
Following an 18-month investigation into supposed irregularities in his personal and campaign finances, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) closed its investigation into Rivera
The Miami Herald
reported in July 2012 that FDLE was prepared to arrest and charge Rivera in the summer of 2011
for theft of campaign funds and money laundering. But the case unraveled due to conflict between investigators and prosecutors as well as the efforts of Rivera's attorneys. In April, FDLE decided not to file charges.
Rivera still remains under investigation by the FBI and IRS, reportedly over whether he evaded income tax payments in connection with his relationship with Millennium Marketing.
The congressman has long denied breaking the law. His campaign said in an April statement that the investigation has been misguided.
"In essence, FDLE launched a fishing expedition that became a wild goose chase and which has now proven to be a discredited, unwarranted and politically-motivated witch-hunt resulting in Congressman Rivera's exoneration. FDLE's unprofessional waste of taxpayer dollars in this matter is shameful," the statement said, according to the Herald.
Sept. 2012: Rivera makes an (un)wanted list
Rivera is named as one of the "most corrupt" members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
. Rivera also made the organization's 2011 list
. He has only served in Congress for two years.
Sept. 2012: A puppet candidate?
Rivera is accused of secretly plotting to plant a candidate in the Democratic primary to run against his strongest Democratic challenger.
The little-known candidate that Rivera decided to back, Justin Lamar Sternad, told FBI investigators of Rivera's efforts to finance his campaign, the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald reported
Rivera's attorney Michael R. Band has dismissed Sternad's allegations. "We will respond when these so-called 'sources' are willing to go on the record," Band told the Herald
. "We are not going to respond to unfounded rumors and innuendo. My client is in the middle of an election and it's unfair for us to be shadow-boxing with unnamed sources."
Ana Sol Alliegro, the GOP consultant Rivera allegedly tapped to help move campaign cash to Sternad, also has a checkered history. She was arrested in 2007 after a reportedly heated dispute with her ex-husband Moshe Cosicher.
The argument reached its boiling point when Alliegro, who was sitting naked with her leg propped up on a desk, grabbed a gun and said: "If you think your [expletive] is powerful (showing the gun), this is mine." She then fired a round into the ceiling, according to the Herald
Alliegro is not apparently cooperating with the investigation.
Not to be outdone, Sternad's wife doused a Miami TV reporter
with a pitcher of water when he visited the home this week to seek comment.