Rep. Javier Fernández says federal officials should investigate Republican former U.S. Rep. David Rivera after Rivera’s consulting firm agreed to a $50 million contract with a Venezuelan-controlled oil company.
The New York Times reported on the deal Wednesday after Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) sued Rivera’s firm, Interamerican Consulting. The firm had agreed to help improve PDVSA’s standing with American officials.
The Miami Herald followed up with a report that Rivera did not register as a foreign agent during those dealings. However, it’s unclear whether his actions violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Fernández — who is now running for Senate District 39 — believes there is enough information to trigger an investigation. The Miami Herald cited sources that Rivera’s actions “caught the interest” of federal investigators, but it’s unclear whether a formal investigation has begun.
“The hypocrisy on display here, both from David Rivera and his Republican allies in South Florida, is staggering,” Fernández said in a Friday statement.
Financial reports show Interamerican Consulting has donated to multiple candidates in the region, such as Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Esteban Bovo and House District 120 candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez.
PDVSA says they paid $15 million of the $50 million owed to Rivera, but that Interamerican Consulting failed to live up to the contract.
Rivera claimed he had taken the money to help the Venezuelan opposition to Maduro. Those claims have not been substantiated.
Fernández also took direct aim at his Republican opponent in SD 39, Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, for not speaking out about Rivera’s actions.
“While Republicans, like Representative Rodriguez, are quick to label their Democratic opponents as socialists, they swallow their tongues when their friend and former colleague admits to lining his pockets with money from a murderous regime,” Fernández said.
“Republicans should be ashamed to call someone paid by Maduro to lobby the United States government their friend. In the interest of transparency, I am calling for a federal investigation into this matter and for my opponent to disclose all of her ties to Mr. Rivera for the benefit of her current constituents and those she hopes to represent in Senate District 39.”
In a statement to Florida Politics, Rodriguez responded to the comments by labeling them a “feeble attempt” to tie her to Rivera.
“I do know Mr. Rivera. Having been involved in the Miami community for years, it’s inconceivable that I wouldn’t know Mr. Rivera. However, he has no ties to me or my campaign,” Rodriguez said.
“And, while I have no knowledge about his dealings whatsoever, I certainly condemn any work done on behalf of the Maduro regime.”
She also seemed to agree with Fernández’ call for an investigation.
“I support any investigation into his reported dealings that law enforcement or other American governmental authorities deem appropriate,” she added.
Rodriguez also made clear she opposes any entity assisting the Maduro government.
“I strongly condemn anyone who profits from or aids Maduro’s regime or any similar regimes or ideologies around the world,” Rodriguez said.
“My track-record as a vehemently anti-socialist and anti-communist advocate is crystal clear.”
Fernández is attempting to flip the script on Rodriguez. In February, Rodriguez attempted to tie Fernández to then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders after Sanders praised the effectiveness of Cuba’s literacy program.
In that instance, Fernández spoke out against Sanders’ comments the next day.
“As a party are we really going to elect a nominee with a worldview that is this fundamentally flawed? Folks, our party [and] country deserve better.”
That didn’t go far enough, according to Rodriguez.
“That’s the best he can muster? He, as a Cuban American himself, should be ashamed,” she argued.
“If my opponent doesn’t stand with Bernie Sanders, he should commit right now to leaving the Democratic Party and Bernie Sanders if he’s the nominee. If he doesn’t, then he stands with Bernie and Bernie stands with the Castro’s.”