TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Former state lawmaker and Congressman David Rivera has taken a long-running ethics case to the Florida Supreme Court.
Rivera, a Republican who is trying to make a political comeback this year by running for a state House seat in Miami, has filed a notice indicating he will ask the Supreme Court to take up a constitutional question in the ethics case.
The case stems, at least in part, from allegations that Rivera, while serving in the Florida House, was improperly reimbursed by the state for travel expenses that had been covered by campaign accounts. The state Commission on Ethics and an administrative law judge ruled against Rivera, who has disputed the characterization of his actions but could face nearly $58,000 in fines.
The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in July that it was too early for Rivera to challenge the constitutionality of a law allowing him to be fined by the state House speaker. While the Florida Commission on Ethics recommended a penalty, the House speaker is charged by the law with the final decision.
Rivera left the Legislature in 2010 and then served a single term in Congress. In the three-page notice filed last week, Rivera’s attorney took issue with an appeals-court position that the constitutional issue is not “ripe for review until the speaker of the House formally issues a financial penalty.”
The notice said Rivera believes the speaker of the House issuing financial penalties against him violates the separation of powers or is what is known as an unconstitutional “bill of attainder.” Rivera, a former state House appropriations chairman, is running in November against Democrat Robert Asencio for an open seat in House District 118.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.