If you have been reading Addicting Info for a while, you might be familiar with a set of articles we wrote when we got intrigued by all the Republican skullduggery and election fraud shenanigans going on in Florida. If not, you can get caught up now and read The Hilariously Inept Shenanigans Of Rep. David Rivera (R-FL): Fake Democrats, ‘Bad Girls,’ And Election Fraud, Oh My! and Miami Reporter Soaked While Investigating Rep. David Rivera And Justin Lamar Sternad Election Fraud Story.
To catch you up, for those pressed for time, Representative David Rivera, who has already earned the stink-eye from the feds for previous misbehavior and (alleged) fraud, apparently found a willing patsy in hotel employee Justin Lamar Sternad, who ran as a fake Democrat in order to siphon votes away from Rivera’s rival, (real) Democrat Joe Garcia.
Sternad, who has always gone by “Justin” until this election, went by “Lamar” when sending fliers to predominately African-American communities. The flyers (oddly) promoted some typical Republican talking points on immigration and making English the official language of the United States (because it is, like, SO HARD to press “1″ on a touch-tone phone when you are asked which language you’d prefer). They also attacked Garcia for not being a natural citizen (in fact, he was born in the United States) and hinted that Garcia’s divorce was bitter and contentious (in fact, it was anything but).
A Republican operative, Ana Alliegro, was involved in the whole mess, helping mail out the flyers and handing over envelopes stuffed with cash to bulk mail company and mailing list company personnel (both of whom have previously worked for Rivera) so they would do some work ostensibly for Sternad. She also was acting as an advisor to Sternad…and a close friend of Rep. Rivera. Once the authorities started sniffing around Rivera again, however, Ana Alliegro vanished. Her family, like, totally has no idea where she might be. It is a mystery.
Think Progress explained that:
As the FBI continues to investigate allegations of secret campaign payments made by freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) to a Democratic House candidate aiming to siphon votes from the Democratic Party’s favored candidate to oppose him in his re-election bid, a key witness has gone missing. The Miami Herald reported Saturday that Ana Alliegro, the apparent go-between for the two campaigns, did not show up for her interview with the FBI and prosecutors. A day before the scheduled interview, FBI agents seized Alliegro’s computer and cellphone.
Think Progress now reports that:
The Florida’s Ethics Commission said Wednesday that it found 11 potential ethics violations by freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) from his time as a state legislator. Rivera, who has denied the charges, is accused of misuse of campaign funds and accepting money from a company that may have affected his voting. Rivera is reportedly already under FBI investigation.
These violations include misuse of campaign funds and accepting a bribe from a company (Southwest Florida Enterprises) who may have influenced him to vote in their favor on an issue discussed in the Florida House of Representatives. Rivera, elected in 2010, has been suspected of malfeasance and illegal activities almost from day one, however.
The FBI is actively investigating the Sternad fake candidacy and allegations that Rivera made illegal cash payments to vendors who were supposedly working for Sternad, but the state ethics commission had been looking into Rivera since his stint in the Florida Legislature, including finding probable cause that Rivera profited from a conflict of interest. The ethics committee also believes that Rivera failed to report his income properly on the required financial disclosure forms.
Another Think Progress update by Josh Israel about the Rivera/Sternad situation clarifies:
Interviews with campaign sources, invoices, campaign records and other documents show that Rivera personally and frequently called [vendor] Rapid Mail about Sternad’s mailers. During one call, Rivera directed an employee to walk outside, check the office mailbox for an envelope containing payment for one mailer, the sources said. The envelope was stuffed with cash — $7,800.
Last week, [Rapid Mail President John] Borrero told The Herald that the Sternad campaign had paid cash for six of the cash mailers, which cost between $4,000 and $6,000 each. He said he was surprised by the amount of cash, which he sometimes may see from private clients and not usually campaigns.
Russell Berman and Alexandra Jaffe at The Hill share Rivera’s reaction:
In a statement, Rivera again denied the charges and accused the commission of making a politically motivated ruling on the eve of an election.
“These allegations are false and will be dismissed shortly,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the Florida Ethics Commission deliberately chose to play politics by injecting itself into the middle of an election after voting has started.” [...]
Reports have indicated [...] that Florida Republicans are already looking for a candidate to run against Joe Garcia in 2014, seeing Rivera’s loss as likely. But Jeff Garcia said he doesn’t believe most Floridians are thinking about the election.
“Obviously [Rivera] is not in good shape, but I don’t think most people who know David are wondering about his electoral chances. I think most people who know David are wondering how much time he’ll serve in prison.”
This is the best real life political soap opera ever!