A top Republican selected Tuesday as the future speaker of the Florida House can't get his own financial house in order.
The home of Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary is in foreclosure. He is struggling to pay a $2.7 million legal judgment from a bad land deal. And his driver's license was temporarily suspended this month after what he called a misunderstanding with his car insurer.
But the financial struggles didn't stop Dorworth, 33, from earning the votes of his Republican colleagues, who anointed him as House speaker for 2014 in a battle that ended last weekend when his main rival, Rep. Erik Fresen of Miami, quit the race.
Dorworth financed his bid to become speaker through his re-election campaign fund and his political committee, Citizens for an Enterprising Democracy. A good portion — more than 30 percent, or $40,000-plus — went into his pocket for reimbursements in the past two years, records show.
Among the recent expenses: a $600 flight to Miami for the Super Bowl and a $527 stay at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
Dorworth said all the expenses were legitimate but acknowledged they don't look good given his financial situation and the dismal economy. He said a campaign for the top post in the House requires a candidate to travel the state, raising and spending big sums to win other lawmakers' support.
"It's a Catch-22 for me," Dorworth said. "If I sit around and do absolutely nothing, then people say, 'Hey man, this guy's got a lot of stuff going on and he's not doing anything.' But if I go out, then you say, 'You're gallivanting around the state.' I clearly don't gallivant. If you've ever seen me before, I'm not a gallivanter."