Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why Hasn't David Rivera Been Arrested Yet? What About Buck McKeon?


Don't be deceived by the innocuous makeup; these are 2 dangerous felons

In his spectacular new book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, Chris Hayes observes that, "[a]long with the other rising inequalities we've become so familiar with-- in income, in wealth, in access to politicians-- we confront now a fundamental inequality of accountability. We can have a just society whose guiding ethos is accountability and punishment, where both black kids dealing weed in Harlem and investment banksters peddling fraudulent securities on Wall Street are forced to pay for their crimes, or we can have a just society whose guiding ethos is forgiveness and second chances, one in which both Wall Street banks and foreclosed households are bailed out, in which both inside traders and street felons are allowed to rejoin polite society with the full privileges of citizenship intact. But we cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principles of forgiveness to the powerful. This is the America in which we currently reside."

How has that come to pass? It seems so... so... unAmerican and so at odds with our ideals. Look no further than the political elites we chose to write our rules and laws, men like Buck McKeon and David Rivera, two especially heinous crooks currently serving in Congress, each of whom should be serving in the penitentiary but neither of whom is likely to ever spend any time behind bars for his crime spree. We've talked a lot her about Buck McKeon's Countrywide bribe scandal and how he sold out to Angelo Mozilo to avoid personal bankruptcy-- and we'll get more into that tomorrow-- but when his political opponent, Lee Rogers, pointed it out to Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and Antelope Valley constituents, McKeon got another unindicted felon, serial car thief Darrell Issa, who first officially exposed him and termed his behavior as taking bribes, to vouch for him in a phony "press release" that only went out to the media in McKeon's district and nowhere else.

Rogers' mailers and ads are completely accurate, quote Issa’s report directly and show him on Fox News (September, 26, 2009) saying, "I call them bribes," about the Friends of Angelo program McKeon availed himself of. McKeon is the only remaining Member of Congress who took bribes from Mozilo; the rest have all been either defeated for reelection of pushed into retirement. Rogers has pointed out that "Issa says in his press release that the ‘allegation that Buck’s vote was somehow bought by Countrywide is at odds with the facts and certainly not something I found in my investigation.’ While only McKeon will know whether his vote was actually bought or not, the proximity of his vote to his loan is extremely suspect. On October 5, 1998, McKeon called the Countrywide VIP desk and according to records he was ‘difficult to deal with’ and ‘edgy’ and wanted to close ‘ASAP.’  On October 6, 1998, McKeon voted to raise the FHA loan limits, something Issa’s report stated that the Mortgage Bankers Association lobbyist, who referred McKeon to the VIP program, wanted lawmakers to do. The very next day, on October 7, 1998, McKeon’s loan was approved. Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo personally intervened, instructing the loan officer to ‘take off one point, no garbage fees, approve the loan and make it a no doc.’ But it’s what Issa’s press release didn’t say that’s most telling. He didn’t deny that Buck McKeon received a favorable rate on his loan. He didn’t deny that Buck McKeon knew he received special treatment. He didn’t deny that Buck McKeon received a gift worth thousands of dollars which is not only banned under House rules, but also by law. It’s really sad that Darrell Issa has spent all this time and taxpayer money uncovering the corruption that led to the mortgage meltdown, but he hasn’t acted to bring anyone to justice or even to enact the recommendations in his own report to prevent this from happening again. But as far as Buck McKeon’s involvement is concerned, voters can read the report for themselves and make their own determinations.”

Earlier this month we reported that the FBI is looking for a missing witness, a right-wing crony of Rivera's and Republican Party operative who he paid to run a fake Democratic primary campaign. The FBI is still looking for her but, in the process, they found envelopes stuffed with shady Rivera cash. Rivera's campaign has been disintegrating and the latest polls show him down by 9% in his re-match with Democrat Joe Garcia, while the Romney campaign has asked him to stay away from their Miami area events. But it's getting even worse than that. Ace Miami Herald reporters, Marc Caputo and Manny Garcia reported on Friday that "a key witness in a federal grand jury case involving U.S. Rep. David Rivera is still missing, but she left important evidence behind for investigators: at least four envelopes that had been stuffed with unreported campaign cash." 
Ana Alliegro, a Republican political operative, delivered the cash-stuffed envelopes to a Hialeah mail house that sent out fliers in a congressional race against a Rivera political rival, the mail house owner told the FBI.

The FBI has the envelopes to check for fingerprints and handwriting comparisons.

Also in the hands of FBI agents: at least six invoices initially made out to the attention of David Rivera-- all marked paid “cash”-- to cover the mailings for Democratic primary challenger Justin Lamar Sternad, a suspected Rivera straw-man candidate. The congressman demanded that his name be removed from the invoices with Wite-Out, documents and interviews show.

Alliegro went missing two weeks ago, shortly after her computer was seized by FBI agents and just hours before she was scheduled to talk to a federal prosecutor about her involvement in the Rivera-Sternad operation. She also had been jailed by Miami cops on an old suspended driver-license warrant.

“Am I worried? Yes,” Mauricio Padilla, her lawyer, said Friday. “I have not heard or seen her. This has never happened to me before.”

Enrique “Rick” Yabor, who represents Sternad, said he and his client would not comment.

Sternad initially failed to report the cash receipts or expenditures-- totaling at least $47,000-- which could violate federal campaign laws concerning financial disclosures for congressional candidates. It’s also illegal to conspire to break federal laws and launder money.

Rivera, already under a separate federal criminal investigation into his personal and campaign finances, denied any association with Sternad, who often attacked candidate Joe Garcia in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary.

In all, Sternad sent 12 mailers in the race-- one of which savaged Garcia over his divorce by using a line of attack that originated with Rivera.

The owner of Rapid Mail, John Borrero, first told The Herald in early August that he had been paid in cash-- a rarity in campaigns, which usually rely on checks so that a candidate can clearly show the source and amounts of his receipts and expenses. Borrero said that Alliegro paid for the mailers multiple times. All but $9,000 of the nearly $47,000 in work was paid in cash.

In August, Borrero said that he turned over two of the envelopes that were in his trash can to Miami-Dade public corruption investigators. They turned the documents over to the FBI, when it opened an inquiry. Agents now have two more envelopes.

Sternad’s primary reports initially gave no indication that he could afford a dozen mailers.

The invoices were initially printed to the attention of Rivera for six Sternad mailers, ranging from fliers titled “Obamacare/Trayvon” to “Lamar for Congress,” records and interviews show. But Rivera demanded that his name be removed, so the invoices only read: “Lamar Sternad for Congress.”

Sternad’s initial reports showed he had loaned himself $11,262, most of which was spent on the state fee to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot. After repeated questions from The Herald, Sternad amended his financial disclosures to show he had loaned himself nearly $53,000 more than originally reported. Still, his reports never showed how he paid for the actual printing of the dozen mailers, which would cost tens of thousands of dollars more.

Sternad’s personal financial disclosures show he is a part-time South Beach hotel worker who earned just $30,000 last year; he listed a one-third interest in a mutual fund valued at a maximum of $100,000. He derived no income from it last year, his disclosures show.

Sternad’s finances weren’t the only mystery-- so was the level of sophistication of his mailers, which targeted slices of the electorate with specialized messages. They were good enough to earn him 11 percent of the vote.

Alliegro took credit for much of the work. FBI agents want to know exactly what she knew and when.

Alliegro’s mother, Agueda “Guedy” Alliegro, said Friday afternoon that she has not heard from her daughter in two weeks and neither have other family members.

“I am worried,” she said. “I know she is resting. We are praying for her.”

Guedy Alliegro said that law enforcement has not contacted her family, which hasn’t filed a missing-person’s report. She said she has no reason to think that her daughter would be cooperating with the FBI.

“Ana has done nothing wrong,” the mother said.
Buck McKeon and David Rivera, this years two worst congressional posterboys for what Chris Hayes refers to as "a fundamental inequality of accountability." Even if both lose their seats, justice will not have been served until each of them has been indicted, tried and, if convicted, punished.

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