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The lobbyist and the lawmaker: Over the years, David Rivera has paid his consultant big bucks

Before launching his bid for Congress last year, David Rivera embarked on a record-breaking campaign for the state Senate, amassing more than $1 million in donations some eight months before Election Day.

Rivera paid $250,000 of that money to his fundraiser and longtime ally, Esther Nuhfer — including $150,000 in “bonus” money, records show — all for a political campaign that Rivera never finished.

Rivera dropped that state Senate campaign early to run for Congress. With Nuhfer’s help, Rivera went on to easily win the congressional race, defeating Republican opponents in the primary and Democrat Joe Garcia in November.

But Rivera’s nascent Washington career is in jeopardy, as criminal investigators in Miami and Tallahassee comb through his personal finances and campaign accounts — including the Senate account that fattened Nuhfer’s pocketbook. Investigators also are focusing on Rivera’s tight relationship with Nuhfer.

Rivera has denied any wrongdoing. Nuhfer did not return messages seeking comment.

Since 2006, Nuhfer’s consulting firm has received at least $817,000 in fees from Rivera’s political campaigns, or from political committees tied to the Republican congressman and former state lawmaker, state and federal campaign records show.

How some of this money was spent remains unclear. Full story here.