Despite pressure from the Florida Supreme Court, Gov. Rick Scott refused to budge Tuesday on revoking the suspension of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi after his acquittal on bribery charges.
The governor, who was sued by Pizzi in an effort to get his job back, now faces the prospect of being ordered by the Supreme Court to revoke his suspension of the mayor after his arrest last year.
In late September, the Supreme Court instructed the governor to explain by Tuesday why he should not revoke the suspension. In his response, Scott argued that he could not revoke Pizzi’s suspension because his term ended as mayor of Miami Lakes with the special election of Wayne Slaton to replace him last October.
“Because his suspension has expired, the governor can no longer revoke it,” wrote Thomas Winokur, assistant general counsel for Scott’s office.
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Pizzi, who is also an attorney, took a jab at the governor, saying he “is playing games and making a mockery of the law. ...Whether it’s tomorrow or next month, I will be reinstated as mayor.”
Pizzi’s lawyer, Ben Kuehne, also took a swing: “Not only is this sad saga an outrage to Mayor Pizzi and the good citizens of Miami Lakes, but it is an affront to the rule of law everywhere.”
The Supreme Court will wait for a final reply from Pizzi’s lawyers this week before issuing its final decision, which is likely to order the governor to revoke the suspension based on its previous stance.
“[T]he Court has determined that the [Pizzi] petition demonstrates a preliminary basis for relief,” the justices wrote in late September.
Their show-cause order, just one-third of a page long, noted that the court “is not, however, suggesting that Governor Scott is required to order that Petitioner Pizzi be reinstated to his former municipal office.”
If the governor were ordered to revoke Pizzi's suspension, the two-term Miami Lakes mayor would then go to Miami-Dade Circuit Court to seek his reinstatement.
Under state law, Pizzi and his legal team asserted he was automatically entitled to regain his job immediately after a 12-person federal jury found him not guilty in Miami federal court in August. They argued that the law Scott invoked to suspend Pizzi after his arrest also required the governor to revoke the suspension after the acquittal.