FEC Raises Red Flag on Boricua Vota, Alianza Campaign Contributions

Jimmy Torres of Boricua Vota at a campaign rally in Orlando. Boricua Vota aims
to boost political participation among Puerto Ricans. / credit: María Padilla

The Federal Elections Commission red-flagged the financial reports of two Orlando-based Puerto Rican political organizations.

Both organizations – Boricua Vota and Alianza for Progress – were cited for similar infractions committed during the final quarter of the 2018 midterm elections, that is, they had expenses for which they showed no contributions, which makes it appear that they hiding their contributors.

In the case of Boricua Vota the amount was for over $101,400, while for Alianza for Progress it was nearly $11,000. In addition, Alianza also was cited for paying itself media production costs, an expense for which the FEC is asking for clarification.

Federal financial campaign rules state that donations over $200 must be itemized, including identification information, date and amount of contribution(s).

Boricua Vota and Alianza for Progress each stated to the El Nuevo Día newspaper of Puerto Rico which first reported the story, that the filings contained errors that would be corrected. The FEC gave each until July 10 to submit official responses to the FEC.

The FEC letter draws unwanted and embarrassing attention to the Democrat-leaning political organizations, particularly in the nascent political world of Latino organizing and fundraising in Central Florida.

Boricua Vota, headed by former SEIU official Jimmy Torres, listed that its expenses were on behalf of Bill Nelson‘s general Senate re-election campaign, including a website, newspaper ad and digital buy and product costs, totaling $1,440.

Another $100,000 went to San Juan-based company, 303.Digital LLP, for digital production and advertising against Nelson’s opponent, former Gov. Rick Scott. 303.Digital was founded in 2011 by attorney Luis S. Herrero Acevedo.

Marcos Vilar of Alianza for Progress, a voter education, civic engagement and issue advocacy organization in the Puerto Rican community.

For his part, Nelson raised over $34 million for his unsuccessful Senate re-election campaign, which would make Boricua Vota’s support negligible in comparison.

Meanwhile, Alianza for Progress, headed by Marcos Vilar, spent nearly $11,000 campaigning against Scott. Of that amount, the FEC singled out nearly $6,000 in media production costs that Alianza paid itself.

Separately, Alianza for Progress spent $49,550 on primary canvassing for Cong. Darren Soto (D-9), who raised over $1.5 million for his re-election bid. Alianza’s work in Soto’s campaign is not in question.

But as the FEC pointed out, neither Boricua Vota nor Alianza for Progress has listed the sources of cash contributions in the campaigns cited.

˜˜María Padilla, Editor

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