There are serious questions tonight about a traffic accident eight years ago involving a prominent political candidate and what he says about the accident today, now that he’s running for the US Congress.
The CBS4 I-Team and CBS4’s news partners at the Miami Herald have spent the last six weeks looking into the incident involving Congressional candidate David Mauricio Rivera and discrepancies between his version of events and what an official Highway Patrol report says happened.
CBS4 I-Team reporter Stephen Stock has the details.
“Please take your seats,” said David Rivera at a recent Republican campaign function in Miami-Dade.
As executive director of the Republican party in Miami-Dade, committeeman for the state GOP and state lawmaker since 2002, including the last two years as chairman of the Florida House Appropriations Committee David Mauricio Rivera has become a politically powerful state representative.
But as Rivera now tries to advance politically to the halls of the United States Congress, the CBS4 I-Team and the Miami Herald have uncovered discrepancies involving an incident that happened on the Palmetto Expressway in the run-up to the 2002 election.
That incident and Rivera’s response to it today raise serious questions.
According to a Florida Highway patrol crash report filed September 6, 2002, a truck working for Liberty Mailing services was delivering campaign flyers to US Post Office when the accident happened.
On board the truck were thousands of flyers put out by Rivera’s political opponent at the time.
The fliers included a last minute attack on Rivera’s character.
Before the truck could make it to the US Post Office, according to the FHP report, a car driven by David Mauricio Rivera struck it forcing the truck to the shoulder of the Palmetto Expressway right in the middle of evening traffic at 5:50pm, ten minutes before the truck’s deadline to get to the post office which was 6:00pm Eastern.
Rivera, who has refused to talk to CBS4 personally about the incident, released a statement that claims the accident happened because he wanted to pull the truck over on the Palmetto Expressway to “retrieve a batch of his own campaign fliers” that were also on the truck.
Rivera, in his statement, said he wanted to pull his fliers off the truck after learning Liberty Mail was “also producing mailers for Rivera’s opponent…”
Rivera says he agreed to rendezvous with the truck on the exit ramp of the Palmetto, where Rivera said he removed his fliers from the truck.
The trouble is the FHP report says the accident happened in the middle of the road, specifically not on the exit or entrance ramps.
The reports also states that Rivera was driving alone.
Rivera’s statement released through a spokeswoman says that other campaign workers were with him at the time in at least one other car to quote “help out.”
One of those people who apparently helped out was attorney Juan Judas Cordero.
“Well, I remember David calling me he needed an attorney,” Cordero told the CBS4 I-Team in a taped on-camera interview.
Cordero told I-Team reporter Jim Defede that even though it was a fender bender he was asked by Rivera to go to the scene on the Palmetto.
“I went to the scene, surveyed the situation and that’s about all I can tell you,” said Juan Judas Cordero. “It’s attorney client privilege. He’s (Rivera) got to release it. If not I’m bound by it.”
I-Team investigator Jim Defede asked “But he got into a minor fender bender on the Palmetto (Expressway) and he called an attorney?”
“He was in the middle of the election anything like that he knows to call me,” said Cordero.
But, now today, in a statement released through a spokeswoman Rivera denies that Cordero was ever an attorney for him or his campaign.
And the president of Dodd Printing, which now owns Liberty Mailing, Richard Sierra, told both the Miami Herald and CBS4 that Rivera’s version of events is not quite true.
“The company truck’s driver did not voluntarily pull off the highway,” said Richard Sierra. “We did not remove any fliers. Whatever was on the truck was mailed.”
The same FHP report shows the truck’s driver told the officer Rivera hit him, forcing the truck to pull over though Rivera denied that to the FHP officer in the same report.
Because of the conflicting statements no charges were filed in the accident.
CBS4’s Jim Defede is friends with one of the Democratic candidates seeking the same seat as Rivera. This isn’t the first time questions in this campaign have been raised about the veracity of David Rivera’s statements.
In July he denied to the Miami Herald being friends with a principal of a group that advises companies on how to trade with Cuba despite several prominent witnesses who said the two men were close.
And in June, Rivera denied that a bank began foreclosure proceedings on a house he owned with former House Speaker Marco Rubio even though property and foreclosure records clearly showed he did co-own the home.
And the records showed the bank had begun court proceedings after Rubio and Rivera missed five months of mortgage payments.