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State files 11 ethics charges against U.S. Rep. David Rivera

The state has filed 11 separate ethics counts against U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami -- all stemming from actions he took while he was a member of the state Legislature. Rivera, who is standing for re-election in less than two weeks, is accused of taking money as a legislator "when he knew or ... should have known it was given to influence his vote or official action."

From the text of an Ethics Commission news release: The Commission found probable cause to believe that U.S. Congressman DAVID RIVERA, former member of the Florida House of Representatives, may have violated Florida ethics laws in 11 instances while serving in the Florida House of Representatives. Probable cause was found to believe that he received income from Southwest Florida Enterprises, Inc. (SFEI) while he was a member of the Florida House, when he knew, or with the exercise of reasonable care should have known it was given to influence his vote or official action. Probable cause also was found to believe that his contract with SFEI through Millennium Marketing, Inc. (Millennium) would create a frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and his public duties as a Florida House member or would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties.

The Commission also found probable cause to believe that Mr. Rivera misused his public position by using campaign funds for non-campaign related expenditures. An allegation that he misused his position to request or accept State reimbursement for travel expenses paid with campaign funds or state office expense accounts, and an allegation that he failed to report, as a gift, forgiveness of a part of a debt he owed Millennium. Probable cause was also found to believe that Mr. Rivera violated Article II, Section 8, of the Florida Constitution with regard to six allegations surrounding his financial disclosure: that he failed to report or did not properly report income, stocks and bonds, or secondary income sources on his 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 CE Form 6s; and that he failed to file a CE Form 6F within 60 days of leaving office in the Florida House. However, the Commission issued a finding of no probable cause regarding an allegation that Mr. Rivera had a voting conflict when he voted on HB 1047 which benefited SFEI, as the alleged violations fell outside the five-year statute of limitations.

-- Steve Bousquet