FL-25: Joe Garcia’s opponent may be tossed off ballot

Hey, world! Florida is at it again! Sunshine State politics once again stand out from the crowd. However, unlike the pregnant chads of the 2000 election, or the constitutional amendment to protect pregnant pigs that passed some years ago, this latest development looks positive. The truth-challenged, ethics-challenged David Rivera now faces a strong legal challenge to his slot on the ballot for the US House seat in the 25th District of Florida.

Two recent bits of background are essential:

  • On Oct. 13 the Miami Herald published a searching look at Rivera’s income and financial statements and pretty clearly concluded that he hadn’t told the whole story. The Herald summarized the problem: “Congressional candidate David Rivera has said he’s a contractor for a federal agency — but the agency says it has never heard of him.”
  • On Oct. 15 a judge in Tallahassee ordered a Republican candidate for the State Senate in a Tampa-area district to be removed from the ballot because he hadn’t told the whole story about his finances. Sound familiar? Rather like David Rivera’s situation? Well, it’s a little different, in that the Republican, Jim Norman, was challenged in court by the loser in the Republican primary, Kevin Ambler. And, there’s no Democrat running, alas, alas. Read this for current machinations to put someone on the ballot.

It turns out that it’s in the Florida Constitution – a candidate must make truthful disclosures of his finances, or face removal.

Now up steps attorney William R. Barzee, a donor to Joe Garcia’s campaign to take away a Republican seat in the US House, and today he filed a suit in the 11th Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County demanding that Rivera be tossed off the ballot. This link takes you to the Miami Herald’s story on this development.

“If a private citizen breaks the law they go to jail. Politicians do not have a right to recklessly ignore our laws,” Barzee said in a statement. “It’s time for David Rivera to come clean or step aside.”

You can see in the Herald’s story that Rivera is steaming mad. The Garcia campaign has been yelling for days about the lack of clarity in the financial statements coming out of the Rivera camp.

No doubt, this will take a few more court dates to play out, and the election is only 12 days away.

We also can hope this trouble rubs off on Rivera’s former housemate, Republican US Senate candidate Marco Rubio. They jointly owned a home in Tallahassee when both were in the Florida House. A recent embarrassment to the two Republicans was news that they had been foreclosed on for failure to keep up the mortgage — talk about financially challenged!

Meanwhile, the Garcia campaign claims to be one of the best Democratic efforts in the country, with an energetic platoon of skilled field organizers and lots of volunteers – no evidence of an enthusiasm gap here. The 25th District encompasses the western reaches of Miami and its suburbs, across the Everglades to the eastern reaches of Naples. It has been held by the Republican, Mario Diaz-Balart, but its demographics are shifting away from Republican orbit, and the incumbent has moved his candidacy to the neighboring District 21, currently held by his elder brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who is retiring. Wait, that’s quitting, not retiring. Republican quitters abound.

Let’s close with a reprise of the happy look of the Joe Garcia campaign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6OkG5wrvKc

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