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Saturday, October 25, 2014
Primary '14

Rivera questions Cabrera’s petitions, integrity

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Masao Katagami/The Riverdale Press
Sen. Gustavo Rivera, right, on ‘BronxTalk’ with Gary Axelbank on Monday. An empty chair represents Mr.Rivera’s challenger, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who declined to participate in the debate.

Throughout his campaign to defend his seat from Democratic primary challenger Fernando Cabrera, a city councilman, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera has shied away from direct verbal attacks on his opponent.

But with the Bronx County Supreme Court expected to rule this week on whether Mr. Cabrera’s campaign committed fraud during petition gathering to get on the ballot, Mr. Rivera started to question the councilman’s character.

“If you have done something similar, various times, then that’s called a pattern,” the senator said on Monday, before going on to list a range of allegations against Mr. Cabrera.

Petition fraud is the most recent charge. Mr. Cabrera’s campaign rejects the accusation, although the candidate has declined or ignored repeated interview requests in recent weeks.

Mr. Rivera said Mr. Cabrera’s petitions to get on the Tuesday, Sept. 9 Democratic primary ballot include dead people, registered Republicans and people who did not, in fact, sign their names for the councilman.

Speaking after a TV interview on Monday night, Mr. Rivera also pointed to previous issues with Mr. Cabrera.

The senator faulted the councilman for recently allocating $33,000 of City Council campaign funds to his state Senate run, a move Mr. Cabrera called an accident. Mr. Rivera also alluded to previous allegations that the councilman tried to make his support of the Kingsbridge Ice Center contingent on extracting a hefty donation for a community organization he controls — charges Mr. Cabrera denied. 

Lastly, the senator mentioned years of tax breaks Mr. Cabrera had to give back after Westchester authorities determined in 2013 that he could not claim a home there as his primary residence.

“When you have a pattern of behavior that demonstrates, I believe, inappropriateness, just to say one word, then questions have to be asked,” Mr. Rivera said.

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