Feds arrest ex-Florida Rep. David Rivera on charges connected to Venezuela

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Before his brief stint in Congress, Rivera served as a powerful budget chief in the legislature. He was an ally of Sen. Mark Rubio (R-Fla.), who once shared a home with him in Tallahassee. Rivera maintained his ties with several GOP officials after he left office and attended the recent one-day session where the Florida legislature elected new leaders.

Rivera’s lawyer Simon Ferro did not call back asking for comment.

Rivera had previously been criticized for not registering as a foreign agent despite working for Petróleos de Venezuela, SA, Venezuela’s state oil company. That company hired Interamerican Consulting, Rivera’s company, to provide consulting services to the country’s state oil company.

Any work Rivera did for the Petróleos de Venezuela, SA required him to register as a foreign agent.

However, the US subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela sued Rivera, claiming he had not done any substantial work and seeking to recover $15 million it paid to his company.

The indictment says that starting in 2017 – shortly after former President Donald Trump took office – Rivera and Nuhfer were wanted to lobby politicians on behalf of Venezuela and gain political support to improve relations between the US and the country under the leadership of strongman Nicolas Maduro. to normalize.

As part of the effort to gain favor on Venezuela’s behalf, the indictment refers to meetings arranged with a US congressman from Texas and a US senator from Florida. Previous reports have already identified the congressman as former Rep. Pete Sessions. The indictment does not list the senator’s name, but Rubio played a critical role in advising the Trump administration on its dealings with Latin American countries.

The indictment says two meetings were held in July 2017 with Florida’s senator in Washington DC to discuss a possible deal with the Maduro regime, whereby he would accept a deal to “hold free and fair elections in Venezuela ”.

At one point, Rivera sent a coded text message to those involved in the effort stating that the senator was meeting with Trump the next day and that he would “tell him that he has the ability to turn the crisis on his hands.” to resolve…” Rivera exchanged texts with the senator saying the US should “facilitate, not just support, a negotiated solution” as well as “not revenge, reconciliation.”

In a later coded text, Rivera said the Florida senator called him to tell him that Maduro should “give guarantees for December’s election.” The indictment says that Maduro ultimately refused to promise open elections and that there is no further dialogue with a senator.

Rubio’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on Rivera’s charges.

Rivera left Congress after being defeated in a 2012 campaign that eventually led to a federal investigation. Democrat Justin Sternad and co-defendant Ana Alliegro subsequently admitted planning to provide more than $70,000 in undisclosed funding to Sternad’s primary campaign in an effort to weaken his Democratic opponent, Joe Garcia. Garcia and Rivera faced off in 2010, and Rivera viewed his former opponent as a bitter rival. But in 2012, Garcia won the Democratic primary and the general election, beating Rivera in their second runoff.

In 2011, a year before the campaign finance scandal, the IRS and FBI began investigating Rivera’s involvement in a secret consulting contract between a dog race track, Magic City Casino, and a marketing firm held in his mother’s name.

In 2019, then-Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Republican from Miami Lakes, refused to impose nearly $58,000 in fines recommended by the Florida Commission on Ethics because Rivera had failed to properly report his income and double billed taxpayers for travel expenses while he served as legislator.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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