Monday, February 21, 2011

David Rivera's $800,000 "Close Friend"


If he gave me $800,000, I might give him a handjob under the table too... or maybe not

Yesterday I tweeted directly to Boehner asking how many scandals does woman beater David M. Rivera (R-FL) have to precipitate before someone has one of those grown-up talks with him like the Speaker had with Buffalo topless lothario Chris Lee? Boehner didn't respond; I didn't expect him too. He's well aware that Rivera is one of the GOP's most embarrassing train-wrecks... and that the local media is having a field day. I wasn't even going to bother doing a post about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in "campaign donations" Rivera has funneled to his Miami honey until I remembered a photo, a previously unpublished one I believe. (See above.) Cozy. I bet it will barely slow down any of the corporate lobbyists who have been filling the corrupt Rivera's coffers for years, coffers the reputed bagman has also shared with equally corrupt-- if more cautious and less stupid-- Marco Rubio.
Before launching his bid for Congress last year, David Rivera embarked on a record-breaking campaign for the state Senate, amassing more than $1 million in donations some eight months before Election Day.

Rivera paid $250,000 of that money to his fundraiser and longtime ally, Esther Nuhfer-- including $150,000 in “bonus” money, records show-- all for a political campaign that Rivera never finished.

Rivera dropped that state Senate campaign early to run for Congress. With Nuhfer’s help, Rivera went on to easily win the congressional race, defeating Republican opponents in the primary and Democrat Joe Garcia in November.

But Rivera’s nascent Washington career is in jeopardy, as criminal investigators in Miami and Tallahassee comb through his personal finances and campaign accounts-- including the Senate account that fattened Nuhfer’s pocketbook. Investigators also are focusing on Rivera’s tight relationship with Nuhfer.

...When asked about Nuhfer’s work for him, Rivera would only communicate with the Miami Herald through written questions sent to an e-mail account in the name of his campaign. Rivera described Nuhfer only as his “fundraising consultant.” In 2010, his last year in the Legislature, Rivera described Nuhfer differently to a Miami Herald reporter.

“She’s a close friend,” Rivera said at the time.

Nuhfer was more than that. She also was a lobbyist in Tallahassee, where her connections to Rivera often sparked whispers and criticism from fellow lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers in the gossipy state Capitol, where Rivera held the powerful post of budget chief in the state House of Representatives in 2009 and 2010.

During the legislative session, Nuhfer was a constant presence in Rivera’s office: She often could be found sitting at or near his desk, using the telephone or typing on her laptop next to Rivera’s legislative aide, Alina Garcia, who was Nuhfer’s roommate in Tallahassee.

Rivera and Nuhfer also traveled together outside the state, according to sources close to the criminal investigation. Through his campaign, Rivera said any trips with Nuhfer were for “fundraising activities and events.” In December, Rivera accompanied Nuhfer to a black-tie gala for Miami Dade College.

...Rivera also burned through the Senate campaign money at an unprecedented pace, spending $700,000 by February 2010-- long before most legislative campaigns even get started. Nuhfer’s firm accounted for the largest expenses: $250,000 in fees and bonuses paid to Communication Solutions over a five-month period, records show.

Rivera said the bonuses were a “contractually-obligated expenditure for the campaign having successfully reached the fundraising bonus threshold.” But Rivera refused to provide The Herald with a copy of the contract with Nuhfer’s firm.

Rivera’s spending from his Senate account has already drawn scrutiny from police and prosecutors, the Herald has learned.

Last summer, Rivera paid $75,000 from that account to a now-defunct consulting company owned by the daughter of one of Rivera’s top aides. According to campaign reports, the money was earmarked for a “thank you” advertising campaign.

The Herald requested records showing how this “thank you” money was spent, but neither Rivera nor the consulting firm provided the newspaper with any documents.

When Rivera decided to run for Congress instead of the state Senate, he once again turned to Nuhfer for help. It was Nuhfer who faxed the notice of Rivera’s candidacy to the state Division of Elections on Feb. 25 and sent out the press release.

Nuhfer received another $192,000 in fees for organizing radio and television advertising for Rivera’s congressional campaign, records show. Nuhfer also worked on Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign last year, records show.

Now that Rivera is in Washington, Nuhfer has been spotted in his office there as well. And she’s no longer registered as a lobbyist in Tallahassee.

Boehner already has a bunch of budding ethics problems on his hands but none-- and especially not poor Chris Lee's-- comes anywhere close to the severity of David Rivera's. The Republicans were certainly aware that he was one of the sleaziest politicians in Florida before he was nominated for Congress. Now he's going to taint the whole party.

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