By Russell Berman and Alexandra Jaffe - 10/24/12 06:30 PM EDT
Florida's state Ethics Commission on Wednesday said it had found “probable cause” that Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) might have violated ethics laws in 11 instances while serving in the State Legislature.
The commission’s finding is the latest in a cascade of ethical troubles that have plagued Rivera almost from the moment he won election to Congress in 2010.
In a statement, Rivera again denied the charges and accused the commission of making a politically motivated ruling on the eve of an election.
“These allegations are false and will be dismissed shortly," he said. "It is unfortunate that the Florida Ethics Commission deliberately chose to play politics by injecting itself into the middle of an election after voting has started."
Political prognosticators now project the freshman Republican will lose his reelection bid to Joe GarciaJoe GarciaClean energy group backs Republican in Florida race Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 Wake up, Democrats — Koch empire targets 2016 Hispanic vote MORE (D), whom he defeated two years ago to win his seat representing south Florida.
But Jeff Garcia, campaign manager for the Democratic candidate, said he doesn't yet think the election is in the bag.
"I don't think anything in life is certain," he said.
Reports have indicated, however, that Florida Republicans are already looking for a candidate to run against Joe Garcia in 2014, seeing Rivera's loss as likely. But Jeff Garcia said he doesn't believe most Floridians are thinking about the election.
"Obviously [Rivera] is not in good shape, but I don't think most people who know David are wondering about his electoral chances. I think most people who know David are wondering how much time he'll serve in prison."
The FBI is reportedly investigating Rivera for allegedly secretly funding the campaign of a candidate in the Democratic congressional primary.
The state ethics commission allegations stem from his days in the Florida Legislature.
The panel found probable cause that Rivera received income from Southwest Florida Enterprises for a marketing contract that could have presented a conflict of interest.
It also found additional possible violations because Rivera failed to report or did not properly report that income on his financial disclosure forms.
Updated at 1:50 p.m.