Showing “corrupt intent,” former Florida lawmaker and current congressional candidate David Rivera double-billed taxpayers and his campaign for travel — and also failed to properly file complete financial-disclosure forms for years, a state administrative law judge has ruled.
Judge W. David Watkins also indicated that he didn’t believe much of the scandal-plagued Rivera’s defense, calling some of his testimony “non-credible.”
In his 37-page recommendation to the Florida Commission on Ethics, Watkins found Rivera violated three state ethics laws, one of them every year between 2005 and 2009, when Rivera appeared to be living off campaign money but failing to report his income properly.
The judge also suggested evidence had been destroyed, a check had been “improperly” backdated and Rivera had failed to properly report a secret payment from a casino.
Rivera has long denied wrongdoing. And he made much of the fact that, of the 11 potential violations the commission slapped him with in October 2012, four had been dropped, including one alleging a conflict of interest over a gambling vote. The judge dismissed another in his recommendation Friday.
“I’m very pleased that this process has resulted in the majority of allegations being dismissed, and I look forward to the remaining allegations being dismissed soon,” Rivera said Monday.
If the commission finds him guilty, however, the Florida House of Representatives has jurisdiction over civil penalties, if any. Regardless, Rivera faces fines but no jail time.