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Congressman David Rivera of Miami was arrested while in Atlanta at an airport.
He’s been indicted by a Miami grand jury after he signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government.
An ongoing federal criminal investigation has uncovered Rivera’s alleged involvement in the crime.
Rivera allegedly received a massive contract from a U.S. affiliate of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company at the same time President Nicolas Maduro was trying to curry favor with the White House.
This occurred in the early days of the Trump administration.
Rivera was sued in 2017 for allegedly failing to do any work. This “strategic consulting” was meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rivera has maintained his innocence.
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Records that emerged as part of the lawsuit show that Rivera’s consulting work was done in concert with Raul Gorrin — a Venezuelan insider and media tycoon who has been sanctioned and indicted in the U.S. on money laundering charges.
Correspondence introduced in court as part of the lawsuit reference show Rivera and Gorrin attempted to coordinate a meeting between Venezuela’s foreign minister and executives from the U.S. oil company Exxon. As part of that charm offensive, they also roped in Rep. Pete Sessions, whose former Dallas district was home to Exxon.
Rivera and Gorrin also discussed the changing price of concert tickets that attorneys for PDV USA stated were coded references to a bribe.
Before being elected to Congress, Rivera was a high-ranking Florida legislator, serving from 2003 to 2010 in the House. During that time he shared a Tallahassee home with current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who eventually became Florida House speaker.
Rivera has been embroiled in several election-related controversies since then, including orchestrating the stealth funding of an unknown Democratic candidate to take on his main rival in a South Florida congressional race and a state investigation into whether he hid a $1 million contract with a gambling company. That probe also involved possible misuse of campaign funds to pay for state House activities already reimbursed by the state.