MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The race for the Florida Congressional District 26 seat is one of the most talked about in South Florida.
It’s a rematch between incumbent Republican Congressman David Rivera and Democratic challenger Joe Garcia.
On Wednesday, the state Ethics Commission announced it has found probable cause that Rivera committed 11 violations of the law while serving in the legislature. He’s also under two federal investigations.
His opponent, a Miami-native, released a statement in response to the new allegations.
“Mr. Rivera’s 11 charges of breaking the law is embarrassing to our entire community. Enough is enough,” Rivera said in the statement. “It is time for us to move forward in a positive way. Hopefully, after Nov. 6th, we can turn the page on Mr. Rivera’s scandals and get back to helping the people of South Florida.”
Prior to the new allegations, Garcia sat down for an interview where he told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana he hopes voters aren’t distracted by all the scandal in this race:
“There’s only two ways to run for office, unopposed or scared. And so we’re scared. And that means we’re going to work hard,” Garcia said.
For Garcia, that means working 20-hour days traveling all over newly created District 26, which spans from Key West to Westchester.
“It’s a new district,” Garcia explained. “A lot of new issues.”
But the number one issue remains creating jobs, Garcia said.
“We’ve got to make sure that as we sit here we do things that help people with small business,” Garcia said. “We’ve got to get the construction industry working again. We’ve got to keep people in their homes.”
To achieve those goals, Garcia has introduced a 26-Point Economic Plan for the 26th District.
In it, he outlines his ideas to support middle class families, reduce the national debt, and implement 21st Century infrastructure.
He unveiled the plan Wednesday.
“We feel very good that we’re running an issue-oriented campaign and it’s having great success,” Garcia said from his campaign office along SW 72 Street. “Voters are out there. They’re listening to our message.”
But at times he worries his message may be overshadowed by the scandal surrounding his Republican opponent.
In addition to the latest claims from the state Ethics Commission, Congressman Rivera is currently under two federal investigations. One probes his campaign finances while the other looks in to whether he secretly pumped money in to the campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad, one of Garcia’s primary election opponents.
“Clearly something happened and there’s an investigation going on,” Garcia said. “We have to move forward and hopefully we’ll reach whatever resolution justice demands.”
Rivera has fired back.
“I’m sure once they look at the allegations, they will be dismissed, as they have been by other authorities, as false,” the Republican Congressman said.
In a campaign ad posted to Rivera’s YouTube account, he leveled allegations at Garcia.
“Today Garcia is under investigation for breaking the law,” the ad claimed.
Garcia said Rivera’s accusation that Garcia himself is under federal investigation is false.
He said voters want a person with integrity representing them in Washington, no matter which party they belong to.
“I may have ideological differences with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but when she stands up in Congress, I’m not embarrassed by her,” Garcia said. “And that’s something I can’t say about the current Congressman.”