© Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer Florida congressman fined $456K in campaign finance scheme
Former Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) was fined $456,000 by a federal court on Tuesday for his role in a campaign finance scheme.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Rivera to pay the money to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which had sued him in 2017 for secretly providing funds to a primary challenger of his eventual Democratic opponent in the 2012 election, according to details laid out in the court order.
Rivera lost that election to former Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia (Fla.).
The commission accused Rivera of initiating the scheme in April 2012 when he directed an associate, Ana Sol Alliegro, to offer Justin Sternad, one of Garcia's three primary challengers, financial support for his campaign. Sternad accepted the offer, and Alliegro spent the next few months transmitting funds to Sternad's campaign.
The Court dismissed the initial complaint against Rivera in 2018, and the FEC amended the complaint in January 2019 accusing him of knowingly funneling campaign cash "in the name of another."
The FEC said in a press release that it sought a $456,000 civil penalty.
The Court found that Rivera funneled $75,927.31 in campaign cash to Sternad. In addition to the fine, the court also permanently enjoined Rivera from violating that campaign statute again.
In her Tuesday order, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke described Rivera's actions as "egregious," adding that there was a chance his conduct would continue noting that he continued to run for office after the scheme.
"Perhaps by virtue of the Court barring Rivera from engaging in similar unlawful conduct in the future, 'that will do the trick' in convincing Rivera - a former U.S. Congressman - to stop violating the law," Cooke wrote.
Rivera told The Miami Herald in a text that the order is "all based on lies, innuendo, hearsay and fake news."
Tuesday's order was the first penally faced by Rivera over the scheme, according to the Herald which revealed it in 2012. The newspaper noted that Sternad and Alliegro were convicted of criminal charges.