Blog — Ethics

February 05, 2014

Rubio Still Has Ties to Rivera

By CREW Staff

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) were the closest of friends—they even bought a house in Tallahassee to share while they were members of the state legislature.  Sen. Rubio initially stood by Rep. Rivera during a federal investigation into Rep. Rivera’s campaign and personal scandals, but eventually made efforts to distance himself as the allegations of criminal wrongdoing multiplied.  Rep. Rivera lost his 2012 re-election bid.  Curiously enough, however, some central players in Rep. Rivera’s scandals are still on Sen. Rubio’s payroll.

In 2013, Sen. Rubio’s campaign committee and joint fundraising committee paid a firm called Communication Solutions roughly $65,000 for fundraising consulting.  Communication Solutions is run by Esther Nuhfer, Rep. Rivera’s ex-girlfriend and fundraising consultant.  Among other things, she appears to have organized a March 2013 fundraiser for Sen. Rubio.   Ms. Nuhfer was questioned by the FBI about a potential kickback scheme between her firm and Rep. Rivera after Communication Solutions was paid $817,000 by Rep. Rivera’s political campaigns and committees.  She was also asked about shady financial dealings between Rep. Rivera and his mother’s company.

Sen. Rubio’s regional director, Alyn Fernandez (formerly Alyn Cruz Higgins), also figured in the investigations.  Ms. Fernandez, the daughter of a longtime Rivera aide, Alina Garcia, owned a consulting company, ACH Fundraising Strategies, which received $75,000 from Rep. Rivera’s state Senate campaign for conducting a supposed “thank you” campaign.  ACH was incorporated one day after a $50,000 payment was made from Rep. Rivera’s campaign and dissolved less than six months later.  Notably, investigators found Ms. Fernandez never actually did any work for Rep. Rivera, in part because she was never given any direction as to the services she was to provide.  ACH did have one other customer: Sen. Rubio’s campaign, which paid $22,000 to the firm for financial and political consulting, including a $10,000 payment made the day before the company dissolved.  Ms. Fernandez is currently Sen. Rubio’s regional director, with a salary of $69,999.84.

Sen. Rubio may be trying to put some distance between himself and his former friend, but, as CREW has pointed out before, his payroll shows he’s still involved with the same cast of shady characters.  The real question is, why?

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