A report in the Miami Herald on Wednesday cited vendors who said that Rivera spent $43,000 in support of a mailing campaign for Justin Lamar Sternad, who ran against Democratic candidate Joe Garcia in the primary for Florida’s 26th congressional district.
Sternad, who works at a hotel front desk, did not have a prior career in politics. He held few campaign appearances and was dogged by accusations that he was a plant by the Rivera campaign to weaken Garcia before the general election.
Sternad’s campaign was managed by a local GOP operative, Ann Alliegro, according to the report. The Herald cited sources who said Alliegro paid for a mailing campaign for Sternad with envelopes full of crisp, $100 bills.
Alliegro’s Twitter account describes her as a “Republican Political Guru and Conservative Bad Girl!” Her current Facebook cover photo is a picture of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and her Instagram account has four pictures of her posing next to Rivera.
Financial statements claimed that Sternad’s campaign was broke and his personal income was less than the $43,000 spent on mailings.
Democrats quickly pounced on the allegations, the latest in a series of controversies facing the first-term lawmaker.
Most notably, Rivera has been under investigation separately by the IRS and FBI over allegations of tax evasion since late July.
“Since coming to Washington, Congressman David Rivera has developed a reputation as one of the most corrupt Members of Congress who has spent more time defending his ethical lapses than working for Floridians,” said Stephanie Formas of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a statement.
“South Florida families deserve a representative committed to creating jobs and protecting Medicare, not one distracted by ongoing ethical and legal challenges.”
Rivera has maintained his innocence over the allegations of tax evasion.