| Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By Marc Caputo and Luisa Yanez
Published May 11, 2014
David Rivera, the former
Miami congressman under investigation in a complicated
campaign-financing scheme, said Thursday night that he intends to run
again for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rivera made his announcement on Spanish-language Mega TV and wouldn’t
talk about the federal investigation, claiming that it was the result of
lies propagated by The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald, whose investigative
work has resulted in one federal conviction and the recent federal
indictment of the Republican’s close friend.
“I will not answer to the lies of the Miami Herald,” Rivera said on the
political talk show Ahora con Oscar Haza.
“I will not deviate from the issues and [will] defeat Joe Garcia.
“Rivera said he’s running due to a “leadership crisis,” calling Garcia
Garcia declined comment about Rivera, who had beaten Garcia in 2010.
Rivera then lost to the Democrat by about 10 percentage points in a 2012
rematch in the newly drawn District 26 boundaries that stretches from
the Miami area to Key West.
Rivera’s announcement stunned Florida’s tough-to-surprise political
One of his fellow Republicans running against Garcia, Miami-Dade School
Board Member Carlos Curbelo, issued a statement that blasted Rivera as
well as Garcia, whose former campaign manager was recently jailed in an
unrelated absentee ballot-request fraud scheme exposed by The Herald.
“Now more than ever our campaign is about putting an end to the scandals
and the corruption that have plagued our community for far too long,”
Curbelo said in a statement.
“The unethical conduct of public officials in both parties — including
incumbent Joe Garcia — has landed people in jail and embarrassed the
residents of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties,” Curbelo said. “We will run
a clean campaign focused on reestablishing the public trust and putting
an end to this sad chapter in our community’s history.”
Curbelo is the Republican establishment favorite in the race and earned
the endorsement of former Gov. Jeb Bush, an early Republican
Rivera is a friend of another potential Republican candidate, Sen. Marco
Rubio, though the two haven’t been as close as in past years amid
Rivera’s mounting political and legal troubles.
The two still jointly own a Tallahassee rental home, but associates of
the two say Rubio would like to sell it and that he doesn’t think it’s a
good idea for him to run for Congress against Curbelo.
Rivera, who said he’d officially file for the office on Friday, didn’t
address Curbelo. The two had a tense race against each other for
Miami-Dade Republican chairman in 2008 when Rivera, then a state
representative, won the post by just a single vote.
Rivera, then a state representative, went on to win his congressional
seat in 2010 when he defeated Garcia and a phony tea party candidate who
had links to Garcia’s former campaign manager, Jeffrey Garcia.
The FBI began investigating that incident last year after the Miami
Herald uncovered new evidence in the case.
By then, the FBI and U.S. Attorneys Office were farther along in the
investigation of Rivera and his friend, Ana Alliegro, who helped manage
the campaign of a little-known Democratic candidate named Justin Lamar
Sternad admitted to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office that his
Democratic primary campaign was funded with about $82,000 in illegal
campaign contributions, which were used, in part, to bash Garcia to the
benefit of Rivera.
Sternad identified Alliegro as a source of the money. A March indictment
against her says she was aided by at least one unnamed “co-conspirator.”
Alliegro is in a federal lockup awaiting trial on charges of breaking
campaign-finance laws and lying about it.
Sternad, who is cooperating against her, has yet to be sentenced after
pleading guilty last year to charges of breaking federal
campaign-finance laws and lying about it.
Alliegro was arrested in March in Nicaragua, to which she twice fled to
avoid investigators and prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J.
Mulvihill argued last month in court as part of a successful effort to
keep her locked up.
Mulvihill said that, after she surrendered her passport last fall,
Alliegro and “another individual” left Miami by flying to Texas,
boarding a Greyhound bus to Mexico — where a U.S. passport isn’t needed
for entry — and then flying to her hideout in Nicaragua.
While in Nicaragua, Alliegro was frequently visited by Rivera, neighbors
told the Miami Herald.
When the Sternad case broke in the Herald/El Nuevo Herald, Mulvihill had
already been leading an unrelated federal tax investigation into Rivera
stemming from a secretive $500,000 payment from a dog track.
Rivera also narrowly escaped a state indictment on 52 counts of theft,
money laundering and racketeering revolving around his use of campaign
money. State prosecutors said the alleged crimes were too old or too
tough to prosecute
Rivera has long denied wrongdoing in those cases and on Thursday night
he downplayed close ties to Alliegro. “I know her family; everyone knows
her family,” he said.
He also dismissed the Sternad case.
“Nobody cares about a fake campaign from two years ago,”
Rivera said “no” when asked if federal investigators have come knocking
on his door.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said of the allegations.