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Florida Supreme Court denies Rivera ethics appeal

From the News Service of Florida:

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up an appeal by former state lawmaker David Rivera in a long-running ethics case.

As is common, justices did not give reasons for turning down Rivera's appeal of a July ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry agreed to reject the case, while Justice R. Fred Lewis wanted to hear oral arguments. Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston did not take part, according to an order posted online.

An attorney for Rivera in September urged the Supreme Court to take up the constitutionality of a law that allows the House speaker to impose fines against Rivera in the ethics case, which includes allegations that Rivera 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 the law allowing him to be fined by the House speaker.

While the ethics commission recommended a penalty, the House speaker is charged by the law with the final decision. Rivera’s attorney asked the Supreme Court to consider the “ripeness” issue, but Attorney General Pam Bondi's office asked justices to turn down the appeal.

Rivera, a Miami Republican who served as House budget chairman, left the Legislature in 2010 and served a single term in Congress. He lost a bid to return to the state House last month.

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