Friday, August 24, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Campaign Investigation
Florida congressman David Rivera dodging questions about the campaign of a failed candidate that is now the focus of an FBI investigation. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has the story.
It tracks to the failed campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad, a hotel worker who ran against Rivera's democratic rival Joe Garcia. The Miami Herald first reported claims Rivera backed Sternad financially, and now the FBI is investigating at issue, where did Sternad's money come from?
Carmel Cafiero: "The Sternad campaign spent almost 47,000 here at Rapid Mail Hialeah."
Two mailings it produced were extremely critical of Joe Garcia who faces off with Rivera in November. The money for the mailings and the campaign have raised questions because Sternad's campaign report shows he loaned himself almost $64,000. That's a lot of for a man who according to published reports, claimed to have earned $30,000 last year.
We could not reach Sternad for comment.
Rep. David Rivera: "I've made various statements on this matter."
Meanwhile, congressman Rivera refused repeatedly to say yes or no to questions about any involvement in Sternad's campaign.
Carmel: "Did you or did not not support this man?"
Rep. David Rivera: "Well as you know Carmel, I've issued several statements on this matter."
Carmel: "Did you or did you not support this man in any way in his campaign?"
Rep. David Rivera: "Carmel you're very aware I've issued a statement on this matter."
Carmel: "We can't get a yes or a no?"
Rep. David Rivera: "I've made a very important decision by going forward with the campaign."
Two reporters asked the congressman for a yes or no 10 times. The most direct answer we got was:
Rep. David Rivera: "As my statement says in writing and publicly that I had nothing to do with that."
His campaign later sent this statement: "Congressman Rivera has never met Mr. Sternad, has never spoken to Mr. Sternad, knows nothing about Mr. Sternad and has no connection whatsoever to Mr. Sternad or his campaign."
Carmel Cafiero: "You're standing here talking to me why won't you say yes or no?"
Rep. David Rivera: "And the statements I have made."
The congressman says he wants to talk about jobs and the economy, but it is likely reporters will continue to ask him about this issue as well.