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In Jack Latvala investigation, what's taking FDLE so long?

It has been nearly six months since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation of former Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, based on a recommendation of a former judge hired by the Senate to investigate sexual harassment allegations against the ex-lawmaker.

Special Master Ronald Swanson referred the case for criminal investigation after concluding that Latvala's alleged behavior toward a female lobbyist "appear to violate ethics rules and may violate laws prohibiting public corruption."

READ MORE: Jack Latvala's latest accuser: 'He unbuttoned my jacket … '

Six months later, FDLE has not yet completed its investigation and sent it to Jack Campbell, the elected Leon County state attorney and Tallahassee-area prosecutor.

For weeks, FDLE has indicated the report would soon be referred to a state prosecutor. But it hasn't happened.

"It is different depending on the number of interviews. Various things can impact how quickly a case moves," FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen told the Times/Herald.

Earlier this month, he said, investigators were drafting a summary report to be sent to supervisors. Last Friday, an agency spokesman said a supervisor was reviewing the final case summary. Swearingen said he wasn't personally familiar with the details of the progress of the case.

Two months ago, on a Friday, April 27, two FDLE agents, Inspector Keith Riddick and Special Agent Damin Kelly, questioned Latvala for about 40 minutes at the office of his attorney, Steve Andrews, in Tallahassee.

"My client was interviewed eight weeks ago," Andrews said in a text. "The inspector who spoke to him said Jack was the last interview, and that he would be writing the report soon thereafter."

Swearingen said investigators in the public corruption unit known as "E.I.," for executive investigations, often work on multiple cases at a time. FDLE reassigned Riddick for a time to work on aspects of the February mass shooting case at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Kelly, the other agent who questioned Latvala, has since been promoted to director of the Office of Safe Schools in the Department of Education.

READ MORE: FDLE announces full investigation in Jack Latvala case

The delay led to speculation that FDLE wanted its investigation to remain pending during last week's qualifying period for legislative candidates, to discourage Latvala from possibly seeking a comeback. Asked if that were possible, Swearingen said: "No."

Latvala, who was a Republican candidate for governor when the scandal broke, declined to comment. Swearingen said FDLE's report will including findings, but will make no recommendation on criminal prosecution. That decision belongs to Campbell's office.

READ MORE: Former senator's payment to P.I. raises questions of a conflict

Latvala's former Senate District 16 seat has been vacant since he resigned. Two Republicans, former Rep. Ed Hooper and Leo Karruli, and one Democrat, former Rep. Amanda Murphy, are seeking the seat.

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