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Ads attacking David Rivera go on TV

The first attack ads have gone on TV in the heated congressional race between Republican state Rep. David Rivera and Democrat Joe Garcia.

The ads, funded by an electioneering committee, try to paint Rivera as out-of-touch with mainstream voters. They are not online, so we can't show you the videos. One of the spots makes it looks like a man-on-the-street interview of a guy who says Rivera favored oil drilling, opposed extending unemployment and approved tax hikes.

We were able to write down the complete script of another one of the spots, which shows a man playing with a little girl in what appears to be a park. Another man out of the shot asks the first man, "Hey, what do you know about David Rivera, the guy running for Congress?"

"David Rivera," the man answers. "Well, I'm generally a conservative kind of guy, but this guy, he's a radical. He's voted against stem cell research, and who knows how many people that's hurt. He doesn't want any gun control laws, and if you ask me, that sounds kind of crazy. And wasn't he one of the zealots who wanted to keep Terri Schiavo alive artificially? What do I know about David Rivera? I know that he's way too radical to represent me in Congress."

The piece ends with, "What do YOU know about David Rivera?" written in white lettering over a black screen.

The ads -- there are several different ones -- say they were paid for by the Committee for Responsible Politics. Public tax records show the committee has been funded largely by Cuban-American Garcia supporters, including Carlos Saladrigas, chairman of the Cuba Study Group, and companies owned by Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation. The two men have given thousands of dollars to Republicans and Democrats, including to Garcia's campaign.

Said Garcia's campaign manager, Jeffrey Garcia: "These are people who clearly disagree with David Rivera and with his clearly out-of-touch policies but has nothing to do with Joe Garcia."

Rivera's campaign manager, Javier Correoso, responded to the ads by attacking Mas Santos. Garcia once ran the foundation under Mas Santos, as CANF moved to embrace more engagement with Cuba, opening a rift that prompted many older members to leave the group. Rivera once worked for CANF, too -- under Jorge Mas Canosa, before the change of guard.

"Joe Garcia continues his Washington insider ways by attacking David Rivera using a 527 funded by Garcia's former boss, Jorge Mas Jr., who has been indicted in Spain for corruption," Correoso said.

He was referring to a case that, according to Spanish news reports, anti-corruption prosecutors in that country brought against eight people -- including Mas Santos and his brother, Juan Carlos -- over alleged wrongdoing that led to the demise of Sintel, a subsidiary of Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica. MasTec, the late Mas Canosa's company, bought Sintel in 1996, the reports say.

Mas Santos vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said he was shocked by the statement from Rivera's camp.

"It's an outrageous statement," said Mas Santos, who said he considers Rivera a friend and emphasized that he has contributed to the GOP in the past, including to U.S. Senate hopeful Marco Rubio and to the Republican Party of Florida. "I think it's well beneath David Rivera and what he should be doing.

"Those accusations, rumors, whatever you call them, are patently false, that I or anyone from my family or my company or MasTec had anything to do directly or indirectly with that case in Spain," he added.