HOMESTEAD, Fla. - An attorney for Michael Pizzi has requested Gov. Rick Scott to reinstate the suspended Miami Lakes mayor after his acquittal on federal corruption charges.
The letter from South Florida attorney Benedict P. Kuehne to Scott's office Friday seeks an executive order revoking the suspension.
But Scott said Friday that he doesn't intend to take any action.
"Miami Lakes already had an election and so they have a mayor now, so there's no place to reinstate him to," Scott told Local 10 News during an appearance in Homestead.
Scott's statement seems to contradict state statute, which requires the governor to reinstate any elected official who has been cleared of any charges that were the basis of the suspension with back pay.
The request comes one day after a jury found Pizzi not guilty of seven corruption-related charges.
Pizzi was suspended by Scott after his arrest last summer. Wayne Slaton was then chosen to fill Pizzi's seat during a special election in October.
In the letter, Kuehne said the verdict in Pizzi's case "demands the same immediacy in revoking the suspension order."
Kuehne said it is the governor's duty to "forthwith revoke the suspension" of Pizzi, quoting the statute.
"Not tomorrow," Kuehne wrote. "Not next week. Now."
Kuehne said Scott's "failure to do so immediately is an abdication of his constitutional responsibilities and an affront to the people's interest in a fair and impartial justice system."
Peter Antanocci, who serves as Scott's general counsel, sent a response to Kuehne later in the day, saying Slaton was elected to permanently replace Pizzi.
Antanocci wrote that "Slaton was not elected only to fill Pizzi's seat temporarily until the felony charges against Pizzi were resolved. Rather, Mayor Slaton was elected to serve out the term of office as Pizzi's replacement."
The letter cites Miami Lake's town charter, which states that a special election will be held if the mayor's position becomes vacant and six months or more remain in the unexpired term.
"In short, when the office of mayor is vacant for less than six months, the elected mayor is restored to office upon the termination of the vacancy," Antanocci wrote. "No such provision for temporary service exists in the town charter for a vacancy of six months or more. This contrast supports the conclusion that Pizzi's term ended upon the election of Mayor Slaton and that the town charter did not provide for Pizzi's reinstatement."
Scott reinstated Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones after she was acquitted of bribery and grand theft charges last year. She was suspended by former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is seeking to reclaim his old job as a Democrat, after her 2010 arrest.
"If the individual and if the official has been exonerated, why wouldn't you reinstate them," Crist told Local 10 during a campaign stop Friday in South Florida. "It seems like the just and fair thing to do."
Pizzi said he was surprised by the governor's remarks and believed he would be reinstated.
"When I was arrested, the governor removed me in 30 seconds, so now that I've been exonerated, I don't know what the holdup is on reinstating me," Pizzi said Friday.
In an email to Local 10, Slaton said he has "no intentions of resigning."
"I am not going anywhere," Slaton wrote. "I am completely committed to the residents of Miami Lakes."
Pizzi returned to his old office Thursday night, proclaiming, "I'm back."
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