Yet Sternad sent out at least 11 professionally designed and printed mailers that targeted specific types of voters, according to campaign vendors.
Sternad refused to answer questions from Herald reporters about how the mailers were paid for. His attorney Enrique “Rick” Yabor declined comment.
Amid the newspaper reports and the launch of a federal probe, Sternad abruptly amended his financial disclosures after the primary to show he had loaned himself nearly $64,000. Before the primary, he reported lending himself about $11,000.
Still, the amended campaign finance reports raised more questions because they didn’t indicate how he paid to print the mailers.
Sternad’s financial disclosures give little indication he can afford the loans or the expenditures. He listed an income of just $30,000 last year and a one-third ownership of an estate trust fund that provided him no income. He reported the trust fund’s maximum value as $100,000.
The incomplete campaign reports, financial documents and the fact that Sternad used a mail house — Rapid Mail & Computer Services — frequently employed by Rivera led Garcia’s campaign to accuse Rivera of colluding in the Democratic campaign.
Rivera and Sternad denied that.
Rivera, however, told a Miami blogger that he referred Alliegro to a mail-targeting specialist. Initially, Rivera said he had no involvement in Sternad’s campaign.
The owner of Rapid Mail, John Borrero, told The Herald and investigators that Sternad and Alliegro paid cash for the mailers except in one instance, when the campaign had a company called Expert Printing send him a $9,000 check.
In another instance, sources said, Rivera telephoned a secretary at Rapid Mail and directed her to walk outside to the company’s mailbox and get an envelope. He told her to deliver it to Borrero. The envelope contained $7,800 to pay for a mailing.
Sternad’s amended reports show he paid Expert Printing only $6,000. That’s hardly enough to pay for the costs of the roughly 135,000 mailers in his race. One mailer bashed Garcia over his divorce.
The sophisticated operation garnered a surprisingly high vote for the political novice, 11 percent. Sternad came in third behind first-place Garcia and challenger Gloria Romero Roses.
Sternad’s amended reports didn’t list the specialist his campaign used to target voters — Campaign Data. The company’s owner, Hugh Cochran, said Rivera was involved.
Cochran, a retired FBI agent, showed The Herald an email he sent to Rapid Mail and Rivera concerning the voter-targeting he performed at Rivera’s request.
Rivera said it was “mistakenly” sent to him — which Cochran said was false.
Rivera has vehemently denied working with Sternad, referring the Herald to a previous written statement he issued on the matter.
“Congressman Rivera has never met or spoken to Mr. Sternad and knows absolutely nothing about him or his campaign,” the statement said.