In a fun Friday segment of The Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow examined an increasingly interesting Congressional race in Florida where Republican Rep. David Rivera had been favored to win, but thanks to a recent campaign/personal spending scandal, polls show he'll likely lose his seat to Democratic opponent Joe Garcia.
She explained the turnaround:
“Something kind of weird happened in South Florida when it came time for the Democrats to pick somebody in their primary to run against Congressman David Rivera. There was the candidate who everybody expected, who had run against David Rivera in the past, Joe Garcia – but then in addition to Joe Garcia there was another candidate in the primary, kind of out of the blue, [Justin Lamar Sternad], who reported almost no fundraising and had only a little over a hundred bucks in the bank. But he still managed to somehow put out really professionally done, professionally micro-targeted, high-end, well-researched campaign mailers, lots of different ones, to the tune of thousands of thousands of dollars in campaign spending.”
Where was all that 'For Justin Lamar' money coming from? Basically, Rep. Rivera spent tens of thousands of his own money to create a fake Democratic candidate, a candidate he would have rather run against than Joe Garcia. If these allegations of funding the Democrat’s failed primary bid are true, Rivera will face criminal conspiracy charges. Speaker of the House John Boehner reportedly advised Rivera to drop out of the race, and Republicans fear the negative attention won't do Mitt Romney any favors with Florida voters.
Interestingly, Ana Sol Alliegro, Sternad’s former fake campaign manager and Rivera’s close friend, who is wanted for questioning in the case, went missing earlier this month after the FBI raided her apartment. Miami bloggers speculate she’s either trying to leave the country or trying to cut a deal with the FBI to avoid doing time. The self-described “Republican bad girl” has a lively past as well, including stories about shoplifting charges, pulling a gun on an ex-husband, and an 83-day marriage to former Miami mayor Joe Carollo.
One last twist: Rivera is also said to be Marco Rubio’s “closest friend in politics,” according to The New Republic, and in their 20 years of friendship Rivera has been “instrumental in Rubio’s rapid rise from Miami commissioner to U.S. senator.” However, pundits have speculated that Rubio’s ties to Rivera may well have cost him a shot at the vice presidential nomination.