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  1. Florida Politics

State Sen. Jim Norman faces ethics hearing next month

State Sen. Jim Norman, who last year was cleared of wrongdoing by federal investigators for his financial connection to a longtime political contributor, still has a date with the state ethics commission to contend with next month.

The Florida Commission on Ethics confirmed last week that a hearing will be held Feb. 3 in Tallahassee to address the former Hillsborough County commissioner's financial reporting, said George Niemann, a retired business consultant from Dover who filed a complaint against Norman.

In 2006, while Norman was on the commission, political benefactor Ralph Hughes gave Norman's wife, Mearline, $500,000 to buy an Arkansas lakefront home. Norman has maintained he was not involved in the deal. Hughes' son, Shea, has testified that the $500,000 was a loan to Mearline payable to the Hughes' family trust. Ralph Hughes is now deceased.

Norman, R-Tampa, failed to disclose the purchase on election papers during his Senate campaign but later amended the documents.

"I'm disappointed that the U.S. Attorney (Robert) O'Neill decided not to file charges against him," Niemann said, "but as a fallback we have the ethics charge."

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