(CN) – Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera funneled at least $69,000 in secret campaign cash to a straw candidate in the 2012 congressional election, the Federal Election Commission claims in court.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Miami on Friday, the commission says Rivera and Ana Alliegro, a Republican political consultant, funneled nearly $70,000 in direct and in-kind contributions to the campaign of candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, who was running against Joe Garcia in the Democratic primary.
According to the complaint “Rivera’s scheme involved concealing in-kind contributions by paying vendors mostly in cash to produce and distribute materials for Sternad’s campaign.”
“Sternad’s disclosure reports failed to disclose the true source of the contributions, instead falsely stating that the contributions were loans from Sternad’s personal funds. Rivera took several measures to conceal his involvement and the source of the contributions,” it continues.
The commission says that Rivera hired vendors that he had used on his previous campaigns to work for Sternad’s campaign committee, and that he and Alliegro worked with them to make and distribute advertising materials for the campaign.
Rivera allegedly told the vendors not to use his name on the invoices for their services, and he made several contributions in cash to conceal his involvement in the funding of Sternad’s campaign, the commission claims.
In the end, the plan failed. Garcia defeated Sternad, and then went on to beat Rivera in the 2012 general election to represent Florida’s 26th Congressional District.
Sternad pleaded guilty in 2013 to violating federal election laws and was sentenced to 30 days in prison and three months’ house arrest. Alliegro, who fled to Nicaragua but was eventually arrested, pleaded guilty in 2014 and was sentenced to one year, split between prison and house arrest, for conspiring to finance Sternad’s candidacy with a person identified in court documents only as “Co-Conspirator A.”
Rivera, who is now a 2018 candidate for Florida House District 105, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
But the FEC decided to press ahead with its case, in part because the statute of limitations on criminal charges runs out in a month.
The commission is represented by in-house attorney Sana Chaudhry of Washington DC.
Rivera could not immediately be reached for comment.