Rep. David Rivera's Connections to Suspected Ringer Candidate Justin Lamar Sternad Deepen
If you were Republican Rep. David Rivera, and you were dodging investigations by both the FBI and IRS, you'd think you'd try and keep your nose clean and avoid any controversy while running for reelection. Yet evidence continues to mount that Rivera and his associates helped run the campaign of a ringer in the Democratic primary.
Justin Lamar Sternad, a political unknown who makes $30,000 a year at a hotel front desk job, emerged as a candidate in the Democratic Primary in Rivera's district. He avoided attacking Rivera, but spent thousands going after Joe Garcia, the candidate who won last week's primary and faced Rivera in 2010.
Sternad claims his campaign was run by Ana Alliegro. Now, Riptide has uncovered social media evidence that Rivera and Alliegro appear to be close personal friends.
Sternad, who went by his middle name "Lamar" during the campaign despite starting off his run using his first name Justin, had a slight campaign. He made a single appearance on CBS4, and spent most of the time attacking Garcia. He refused to say anything bad about Rivera, nor any of the other Democratic candidates in his primary. He then sent out several flyers, seemingly specifically targeted at white, black and female voters. Many of those fliers directly attacked Garcia, highlighting similar talking points used by Rivera. In one he even used Barack Obama's familiar campaign logo, but reportedly the Obama campaign asked him to stop using it.
Sternad told the Herald his campaign was being run by Ana Alliegro. Sternad is also being represented by lawyer Enrique "Rick" Yabor. Yabor himself ran unsuccessfully in last Tuesday's election for a County Judge seat, and paid Alliegro as a consultant.
So who is Ana Alliegro? She's a local GOP political operative, and runs OnTarget Hispanic Marketing, Inc. According to a Herald blog post, she used to date Republican political Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and the Herald notes that on her Twitter she describes herself as a "Republican Political Guru and Conservative Bad Girl!" (Her recent feed, meanwhile, consists of a series of attacks on Joe Garcia, accusing him of being too close to Castro and violating FEC laws.)
Yet, her social media footprint goes far beyond Twitter. Her Facebook page, which currently features a picture of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as her header image, leaves little doubt where her political allegiances lie. She also once used a picture of herself with David Rivera as a profile picture. How odd that a Democrat running to challenge Rivera would claim a woman who appears to be friends with Rivera was running his campaign. This was not a one time meeting.
Also, perhaps unrelated, but still interesting, in a Facebook album entitled "REPUBLICAN BAD GIRL 11-06-11," Alliegro posted a picture of herself in a US Post Office at night holding a mail bin with a finger over her mouth. The album, by the way, states it was "Taken at SHHHHHHH."
"What were you doing in that picture?" asked one friend.
"You don't really want to know ... hahahaha!" replied Alliegro.
As this happened in November 2011, days before the Hialeah general election, it's unrelated to the current flap over Stenard. But it appears she can at least make a few jokes about political corruption.
Though the Republican Bad Girl's latest political predicament is no laughing matter. From the Herald:
Alliegro was also involved in paying for Sternad's mailers in cash -- as much as $7,000 -- delivering envelopes containing crisp $100 bills, sources familiar with Sternad's campaign said
It's those mailers that ultimately draw further connections between Sternad and Rep. Rivera. Sternad paid for $43,000 from Rapid Mill and Computer Services in Hialeah.
Sternad only reported $11,000 in loans to his own campaign. After paying state qualifying fees only $822 is left. He's reported no other campaign funds to the FEC. Oddly, according to the Herald's sources, all of the payments to Rapid Mill were made in cash.
More damning still is that Hugh Cochran, president of Campaign Data, told the Herald he was contacted by the Rivera campaign to create a list of Democratic voters in the district organized by race and gender. Those voters appear to be the same ones targeted by Sternad's office. Cochran then sent the data directly to Rapid Mill. Cochran says he was told by the president of Rapid Mill that the data was meant for Sternad's campaign.
Of course no one else is talking on the record. Rapid Mill issued no comment. Alliegro hung up on the Herald, and has not officially confirmed she ran Sternad's campaign. (Riptide was also unable to reach her.) Rivera's office says he has no connection to Sternad.
The whole idea of the scheme, if true, is so ridiculous that it would make even the most corrupt Miami-Dade politicians giggle, and it's hard to see exactly what Rivera could have gained from running a ringer in the Democratic primary. Garcia is a known and experienced candidate, despite having never actually won office. There was little doubt he was going to win the primary, especially going against a complete unknown like Stenard who made few campaign appearances.
Yet, Rivera's political history is full of accusation of shady deals. It would almost take too much space to run through it now (His Wikipedia page has a nice recap and yet doesn't quite list it all). Either Rivera really is a shameless corrupt creep, or he just seems to be particularly unlucky in terms of getting into situations that paint him as a shameless corrupt creep.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.