Saturday, July 24, 2010

RPOF "Victory" office: Rivera Country?

Several local Republicans made appearances, ate pastelitos and cake and had their photos taken with each other and the Republican die-hard supporters at the grand opening Saturday of the state party's first "Victory HQ" office in West Kendall. Two more -- one in West Miami and another in Hialeah -- are expected to open in the next couple of weeks.

But even before the first political poster was taped to the window at 14273 SW 42nd Street, there were complaints the office will favor State Rep. David Rivera in the Congressional race for District 25 -- what Rivera's opponents say is yet another advantage of the Miami-Dade Republican Committee chair.

The Victory office on Bird Road does seem, on its face, to be Rivera Country: A large Rivera banner dominates one wall. No other candidates had banners inside -- or out -- Saturday. And when Sen. George LeMieux spoke, he basically endorsed Rivera. The coffee table inside displayed a few bumper stickers and palm cards for the other Republican candidates, Marili Cancio and Paul Crespo -- dwarfed by three large stacks of Rivera calendars and mailers.

And then there's the staff connections.

"If they don't bring me anything, I can't put it out," said Alina Garcia, who two months ago was Rivera's top legislative aide and had worked with him since he was first elected in 2002. Garcia, who got plucked for the job by the Republican Party of Florida to run the Victory offices -- got help setting up Saturday from Maria Armenteros, another Rivera aide, and a woman who works in the Miami-Dade Republican Party office that shares space with the state rep in Doral.

But Garcia says there is no conflict of interest and that the other two candidates had been invited and had not taken their materials to the office yet. She showed Ladra a mail piece from Crespo with the name and address marked off with a Sharpee which she said she did so she could tape it to the window with the others.

There will be no favoritism, Garcia told Ladra. "Not from this office," she said.

"What I do in there is we call people who are Republican who don't go to vote often and urge them to register to vote or request absentee ballots," Garcia said, adding that they had been targeting the "twos." (Voters are categorized in one of five categories, with four and fives being "super voters" that cast their nods in every or almost every election).

"We are not saying vote for this or vote for that candidate," Garcia added. "We are just getting out the vote. "We need Republicans to go out and vote in every election."

She added that the space could be used by all Republican candidates.

"Everybody is welcome to come and make calls from the office and spend all day here if they want," Garcia said, moments after she posed with Rivera and members of his district office and campaign staff. (More photos on facebook here:!/album.php?aid=70956&id=1357833535)

(She is not, however, in any photos posted by Marili Cancio on facebook).

JC Hernandez, executive director of the Miami-Dade REC, told Ladra that there was no conflict of interest and that the offices were really going to get into full swing after the primary.

"My job is to make sure November runs smoothly," Hernandez said. "It's up to the voters at the end of the day. After Aug. 24 we'll decide who we're going to back," Hernandez said.

"Then, hopefully, we can get back to business -- which is kicking Nancy Pelosi out of office."

Cancio could not be reached for comment Saturday but posted photos of her own from the event.

Crespo, who pulled LeMieux to the side and said he was not happy about the Rivera endorsement surprise, told Ladra he plans to visit the Victory office and will ask Garcia to hang his own banner on the wall opposite the Rivera banner.

"We have to be very vigilant that the Victory office, which is right next door to where Rivera's campaign office used to be, isn't used as an extension of David Rivera's campaign," Crespo said. "We need to make sure that doesn't happen because that would be unfair and inappropriate."

He said he gave LeMieux his business card and introduced himself before the Senator spoke and said what a great Congressman Rivera would make. So Crespo went to chat with him after.

"I told him that was wrong. This was a Republican Party event not a David Rivera event."

Sometimes, apparently, the two things look like one and the same.


  1. This is so interesting and I'm so glad I came across it. I live in the general area. I will be stopping by for campaign information on Cancio. I'm a Republican but fair is fair. And, how can this not be a conflict of interest?

  2. The whole thing is one big corrupt mess... David Rivera is a true Banana Republican and gives us all a bad name.

    JC Hernandez is his hand-picked guy in the party -he has ZERO credibility. JC was caught on video two weeks ago spastically sending the police to take Crespo out of the GOP candidate forum after Crespo asked Rivera to resign. And then JC was caught on video denying it. He should be fired!

    As for Alina Garcia...she is Rivera's life long pitt bull, his recent "Senior Legislative Aide," and the person who according to Bernadette Pardo's Saturday column in the Nuevo Herald, orchestrated the fabricated police incident against Crespo. "There will be no favoritism?" Come on! What a joke.

    We need to clean our own house before we can go after the Democrats.

  3. Paco, I couldn't agree with you more. We need to clean our own house first, but there are a lot of Dinasours here in Miami... and that will be a hard task..

  4. David Rivera is a real piece of work - interesting that he only raised $500k in 2-3 months out of session, after raising $700k when he was in a posiiton to twist lobbyist arms. But there's much more to know about him:

  5. Dear Gabriel, while I won't take the link off in the interest of free speech, I must tell you that a paid ad by Paul Crespo (fine print at the bottom of the page), an opponent in the Republican run for that primary slot, does not give me any confidence in the site content.

    And Ladra is sorry that Paul, who up to now had taken the [sorta] high road on some of these issues, would do this... "chronicles of the ethically challenged" (like the headline says), indeed. This website is certainly one of those questionable chronicle entries. If any of these things have substance, file complaints in the appropriate venues. While they are not perfect (what? this is better?), there are processes at the Florida Elections Commission and various ethics boards. Don't just throw out these allegations sprinkled with a little spin and scary words but no meat (no substance; no proof). Can we get a little meat from somebody? Anybody?

  6. Ms. Ladra,

    I appreciate your willingness to let the voters decide for themselves whether the cited articles have merit. I certainly do not believe that everything there can be taken to the bank -- but most of it is solid reporting by reputable publications - miami herald, palm beach post, etc. And in fact some of the issues raised in those published articles have been raised in formal inquiries.

    The logical extension of your statement is that one needs a conviction or a definitive finding of fact in court for an allegation to be credible and worth consideration. I for one will not surrender my God-given common sense to such a high standard. By that measure one could not make informed judgments about a candidate with respect to his propensity for unethical behavior if someone has not previously taken formal action against that candidate and won.

    I sincerely understand your distaste for the raising of such ethical questions. Many of us would much prefer a straight up debate of pure policy issues. But (1) David Rivera has shown absolutely no interest in doing so (he only recently added an issues page to his site, and he has steadfastly refused to debate) and (2) the extent of David Rivera's ethical tone-deafness goes well beyond that of your average politician, in my experience. On the basis of the latter, I am forced to conclude that Paul Crespo's website, though clearly intended to help his own campaign, is also an undeniable service to the voting public.

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