Newscaster: … questions 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 US congress. The CBS 4 I Team and our news partners with the Miami Herald have spent the last six weeks looking into the incident involving congressional candidate David M. Rivera and discrepancies between his version of events and what an official Highway Patrol report says happened. CBS 4 I Team reporter Steven Stock has the details.
(Video of David Rivera)
David Rivera: … we have to take our seats right away.
Stock (Voice Over): As executive director of the Republican party in Miami-Dade, committee man for the state GOP, and state lawmaker since 2002, including serving the last two years as chairman of the Florida House Appropriations committee, David M. Rivera has become a politically powerful state representative.
(Video of David Rivera)
David Rivera: I’m David Rivera, and I approve this message …
Stock (Voice Over): But as Rivera now tries to advance to the halls of Congress, the CBS 4 I Team and Miami Herald have uncovered discrepancies involving an incident that happened here 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 this Florida Highway Patrol crash report filed September 6, 2002, a truck working for Liberty Mailing Services was delivering campaign fliers to the US post office. Onboard the truck, thousands of fliers by Rivera’s opponent at the time, fliers that included a last-minute attack on Rivera’s character. Before the truck could make it to the US post office, however, a car driven by David M. Rivera struck it, forcing the truck to the shoulder of the Palmetto expressway right in the middle of evening traffic ten minutes before its deadline to get to the post office, 6 o’clock. Rivera, who has refused to talk to us about the incident, released a statement that claims the accident happened because he wanted to pull the truck over on the Palmetto to “retrieve a batch of his own campaign fliers” that were also on the truck. Rivera says he wanted to pull his fliers off the truck after learning that 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 the fliers from the truck. The trouble is, the FHP report says the accident happened in the middle of the road, specifically not on exit or entrance ramps. The report also states that Rivera was driving alone; Rivera’s statement says that other campaign workers were with him at the time in at least one other car to “help out.”
(Video of attorney)
Cordero: I remember him calling me – he needed an attorney.
Stock: Juan Judas Cordero told I Team reporter Jim Defede that even though it was a fender bender, he was asked to go to the scene at the Palmetto.
Cordero: I went up to the scene, surveyed the situation, and that’s about all I can tell you. It’s attorney-client privilege. He’s got to release it. If not, I’m bound by it.
Defede: He got into a minor fender bender on the Palmetto and he called an attorney?
Cordero: He was in the middle of an election. Anything like that, he knows to call me.
Stock: But now, in a statement, 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 CBS 4 that Rivera’s version of events is not quite true. The company truck “did not voluntarily pull off the highway” and “we did not remove any fliers. Whatever was on the truck was mailed,” said Richard Sierra. The FHP report shows the truck’s driver told the officer that Rivera hit him, forcing the truck to pull over, though Rivera denied that to the FHP officer in the same report. Because of those conflicting statements, no charges were filed in the accident.
Now, in the interest in full disclosure, we should tell you that CBS 4’s Jim Defede is friends with one of the democratic candidates seeking the same seat as Rivera. This is not the first time questions in this campaign have been raised about 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 telling the paper those two men are very close. And in June a campaign statement denied that foreclosure proceedings began on a Tallahassee house that Rivera owned with former House speaker Mark Rubio, even though property and foreclosure records clearly showed he’d co-owned the home and that the bank had begun court proceedings after Rubio and Rivera both missed five months of mortgage payments. I’m Steven Stock, this is CBS 4 I Team.