Fla. GOP Rep. Rivera Accused of Funding Democrat's Primary Bid

Wednesday, 22 Aug 2012 01:56 PM

By Andra Varin

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Campaign vendors and documents indicate Republican Rep. David Rivera of Florida secretly funneled $43,000 to a Democrat challenging Rivera’s archrival, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.
According to the Herald, Rivera may have broken federal election laws by helping to finance Justin Lamar Sternad, a political unknown who lost his Democratic primary bid to Joe Garcia. Garcia, who defeated Sternad and two other challengers, will now try to unseat Rivera in the general election.
Both Rivera and Sternad have denied working together to knock Garcia out of the congressional race. But the Herald said campaign vendors have insisted that Rivera helped orchestrate and run Sternad’s sophisticated mail campaign.
Payment for the mailers was often made in envelopes stuffed with crisp $100 bills, the newspaper said.
Hugh Cochran, president of Campaign Data, told the Herald that Rivera contacted him in July and asked him for a list of voters who were ultimately targeted in a series of 11 mailers. campaign.
“David hired me to run the data,” Cochran told the Herald.
The Rivera campaign told the Herald via email the congressman "has never met or spoken to Mr. Sternad and knows absolutely nothing about him or his campaign."
But the campaign did acknowledge that it might have received an email from Cochran's Campaign Data firm intended for Sternad's use. But Rivera aides insisted it was mistake on Campaign Data's part.
"Anything Campaign Data mistakenly sent to Congressman Rivera was done so in error, which has occurred previously, and without Congressman Rivera's knowledge or consent," the Rivera campaign said in the email to the Herald.
The Herald also contacted Sternad and his attorney about the allegations, but they declined to comment.

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