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Failed Florida MAGA candidate defending 2020 mail-in ballot forger

Former Florida state House member Anthony Sabatini, a fucking far-right nutcase whose name was well known to longtime National Zero readers until he lost a 2022 primary to now-7th District MAGA Congressman Cory Mills, has been retained as defense counsel by a Villages-area man facing charges of forgery and voter fraud for having signed his then-recently-deceased father’s name on a mail-in ballot for fat former President Trump in October 2020, Villages-News.com reports.

Former Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini and Trump-loving accused 2020 ballot forger Robert Rivernider Jr.

Robert Rivernider Jr, who Villages-News describes as having “served as a Villagers for Trump board member,” was himself ineligible to vote for the Orange Allah in the 2020 election due to his 2013 federal felony conviction in a $20 million real estate scam, for which he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Rivernider Jr was released seven years into the bid in mid-2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and moved in with his father in The Villages, only for the old man to fall victim to the virus on October 19, 2020. The Sumter County elections office smelled a rat when the signature on a ballot for Robert Rivernider Sr didn’t match the one on his registration and was signed and dated October 16 but postmarked October 23, 2020, so they set it aside for review. Eventually they determined the ballot had likely actually been signed by Rivernider Jr, banned by the DeSantis Regime from voting until he pays restitution to the victims of the decade-old real estate fraud rap.

The article doesn’t include any relevant quotes from the “election-integrity” obsessed QAnon-curious Sabatini on why he’s representing Rivernider Jr in the middle of a second US House campaign to take on incumbent 11th District Republican Congressman Dan Webster. Last year Webster fairly easily fended off a challenge from a different, high-profile, carpet-bagging mental patient in racist MAGA activist Laura Loomer, so it’s not clear how much better Sabatini is going to do against Webster. Or why he thinks taking this case is good publicity for his campaign.

Compare it with a similar-ish situation in Wisconsin, where braces-wearing former state Supreme Court Justice and failed 2020 election “review” czar Mike Gableman has volunteered pro-bono defense to Harry Wait, the activist jerkoff who falsely requested absentee ballots in the name of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to somehow prove they were vulnerable to fraud: You can at least kind of see a cause where Wait’s guilt or innocence is beside the point and Gableman is just doing it to “put the system on trial” even though Wait’s defrauding the state’s ballot request portal and then not actually trying to vote with them was just so fucking stupid. We feel pretty confident predicting Wait is going to get screwed and badly with his counsel Gableman simply using him and the case to spew bullshit 2020 election conspiracy theories rather than work out a plea bargain, but that’s on him for accepting Gableman’s offer of free representation instead of hiring a real defense lawyer.

Now Villages-News doesn’t say whether Sabatini is working pro-bono for Rivernider Jr, though we’re not sure how much that matters when he’s running for Congress while tying himself to a defendant that is pretty clearly fucked. If we had to guess – and this is very stupid but we really can’t think of anything else – it’s that Rivernider and Sabatini, both hardcore Trump fanboys, may have a common enemy in heels-wearing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Sabatini has chafed at Mickey Maoist for being not hardcore white nationalist enough on guns, immigrants, and Disney, while Rivernider Jr thinks the charges against him are some kind of vast conspiracy by pro-DeSantis elements in the Sumter County elections and sheriff’s offices. Seriously. “There is a lot of politics that goes on here in Sumter County and they don’t like the fact that I don’t follow their system,” Rivernider Jr told the Associated Press in a phone interview on Wednesday, explaining his vocal Trump support was the only reason these shadowy DeSantis partisans came after him three years later. Hilariously enough the very next day DeSantis’s 2024 presidential campaign announced they had secured the endorsements of 60 Florida sheriffs, among them Sumter Country Sheriff Bill Farmer Jr.

For his part – and very much unlike the previous 11th District primary challenger Loomer – Sabatini has been muted on DeSantis since the “TOP GOV” launched his likely doomed bid in May. A Twitter advanced search reveals zero tweets by Sabatini with the word “DeSantis” in it since April and even his criticisms before that were fairly tame and policy-based. MAGA’s usually more personal than this.

So it’s anyone’s guess whether Sabatini will actually incorporate this alleged anti-Trump, pro-DeSantis conspiracy in his defense of Rivernider. What’s less in doubt is – whatever he does ultimately end up arguing in court – it will probably be pretty fucking stupid because he can count on a MAGA jury made up of Rivernider’s Villager peers. They might just buy it on the circumstantial timing of the sheriff’s DeSantis endorsement alone, five days after deputies arrested Rivernider.

However it’s probably more likely that Sabatini will stick to a more boilerplate “patriots everywhere are getting persecuted just for exercising their First Amendment rights” and “President Trump warned they were coming for you too”-type song and dance. Great material for a MAGA campaign speech, not so great for defending an already convicted felon – one who would literally still be in prison right now if not for COVID-19 – facing probably a few more years for his new crime against democracy. Rivernider isn’t like those other Villagers who walked got slaps on the wrist had clean records before they were caught voting in two different states in the 2020 election.

If this guy goes down he’s going down hard. The story was already pretty goddamned funny when he first got cuffed, now Sabatini getting mixed in was like it chugged a Red Bull. Seriously what the fuck is this guy thinking? Does he really need the money that badly – if he’s even getting paid to represent him? How is this supposed to help him in a primary campaign against an incumbent who already beat back a more obnoxious and demented far-right challenger? We demand answers.

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