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  • FEC Record: Litigation

FEC v. Rivera seeks to enforce ban on contributions in the name of another

July 25, 2017

On July 14, 2017, the Commission filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against former U.S. Congressman David Rivera. The Commission seeks a declaration that Rivera violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and FEC regulations by engaging in a scheme to secretly provide more than $69,000 in direct and in-kind contributions to the 2012 primary election campaign of Justin Sternad in Florida’s 26th U.S. Congressional District. The FEC also asks the court to permanently enjoin Rivera from making contributions in the names of others to federal candidates and assess an appropriate civil penalty against Rivera.

Background

David Rivera was a one-term Republican Congressman from Florida’s 25th Congressional District. In 2012, Rivera lost his bid for re-election in the redrawn 26th Congressional District to Democratic candidate Joe Garcia.

During the 2012 primary campaign, Rivera carried out a scheme to provide funds to one of Garcia’s opponents for the Democratic nomination, Justin Sternad. In April 2012, Rivera met with Ana Sol Alliegro to discuss providing financial support to Sternad’s campaign and directed her to approach Sternad with the offer to help fund his campaign. Later that month, Alliegro spoke with Sternad and he agreed to the offer. Between approximately July 14, 2012 and August 9, 2012, six payments totaling $69,426.20 were made to vendors providing services to the Sternad campaign. As directed by Alliegro, the campaign falsely reported these contributions on its disclosure reports as loans from Sternad’s personal funds.

Sternad and Alliegro were criminally prosecuted for their roles in the scheme and both pled guilty to the charges.

Compliance action

The Act provides that “[n]o person shall make a contribution in the name of another person.” This includes, as stated in a Commission regulation, “[k]nowingly help[ing] or assist[ing]” any person in contributing in the name of another. The Commission has explained that a person has knowingly helped or assisted a person to contribute in the name of another when he or she has “initiate[d] or instigate[d] or ha[d] some significant participation in a plan or scheme to make a contribution in the name of another.”

The Commission initiated enforcement proceedings against Rivera after reviewing information in the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities. On June 1, 2017, the Commission voted 5-0 to find probable cause to believe that Rivera had knowingly and willfully violated the Act. Unable to secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, the Commission voted 5-0 to authorize this suit on July 11, 2017.

The FEC seeks a declaration that Rivera knowingly and willfully violated the Act by making more than $69,000 in contributions in the name of others. The FEC also seeks a civil penalty of $486,000 and a permanent injunction against future similar violations.

Resources:

  • Author 
    • Paul Stoetzer
    • Communications Specialist