MIAMI (AP) – A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a former Republican congressman from Florida to pay $ 456,000 for secretly funneling thousands of dollars to a little-known Democratic candidate in 2012 in an attempt to weaken a political rival.
US District Judge Marcia G. Cooke sided with the Federal Election Commission in his civil case against the ex-Rep. David Rivera.
The FEC had claimed that Rivera secretly and illegally contributed nearly $ 76,000 to Justin Sternad in an attempt to weaken the rival Democratic campaign of Joe Garcia, which ultimately won the Miami-area seat.
Sternad and Rivera’s associate Ana Alliegro has previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges as part of the scheme. Rivera has never been charged with a crime and has long denied wrongdoing.
Since losing in 2012, Rivera has made other unsuccessful runs for Congress. He was elected to the Miami GOP executive committee last year. Several months earlier, Florida Democrats called for a congressional inquiry into Rivera’s trade relationship with Venezuela’s state oil monopoly PDVSA – after a lawsuit found his consultancy was awarded a contract advice of $ 50 million in 2017.