David Rivera may have spent the last eight years filing the shadiest disclosure forms this side of Tom DeLay, but that doesn't mean Miami-Dade voters shouldn't have a chance to vote for the guy. So says Judge Jerald Bagley, who just dismissed a lawsuit to remove Rivera from the ballot.
Bagley didn't try to hide his skepticism over the suit, which was based almost entirely on recent reports by the Miami Herald. "What's reported in the news media ... is not always true, and secondly it's not evidence. You know that," Bagley said.
The suit, filed last Thursday by Democratic backer William Barzee, argued that Rivera should be tossed off the ballot for violating Florida's rules requiring full and honest financial statements.
Although Rivera for the last seven years has listed USAID as his primary employer, the government agency had no record of him or his company, the Herald found. Rivera then claimed that he'd instead been working for USAID subcontractors, but refused to name them.
Just this morning, the Herald reported that Rivera's company -- which was established in Puerto Rico -- hadn't kept its papers current for at least three years.
All very shady! But do questions about where exactly Rivera has been earning enough cash to pay for two homes add up to enough to scratch his name from next week's race against Democrat Joe Garcia for the District 25 House seat?
Uh, not so much. Bagley pretty well tore Barzee's arguments to shreds in court this morning, pointing out that he'd not presented any evidence that the candidate had violated constitutional rules.
Barzee's attorneys argued that the onus should be on Rivera to provide mortgage statements and financial documents to show that his financial statements were accurate, but the judge wasn't moved.
Just after 2 p.m., he granted the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Rivera, meanwhile, holds a healthy 7-point lead over Garcia and looks ready to cruise to Washington, wherever his personal cash is coming from.
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