Embattled Florida Senate candidate Jim Norman has officially appealed a circuit court judge’s decision to throw him off the ballot for the District 12 seat for not disclosing a $500,000 gift from a Tampa businessman his wife used to purchase an Arkansas home.

Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard filed a brief with the First District Court of Appeal Thursday saying Leon County Judge Jackie Fulford erred in disqualifying Norman, who is currently a Hillsborough County commissioner.

Fulford tossed Norman, from the ballot as a result of a lawsuit filed by Norman’s opponent in the Republican primary, Florida Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa.

Richard’s brief on behalf of Norman says Fulford’s ruling should be overturned  because the facts of the case show that the $500,000 gift from Tampa businessman Ralph Hughes went to Norman’s wife, and into an account he never had access to.

“There was no evidence that Jim Norman gave or promised anything of value to Ralph Hughes in consideration for the payment of money into the M.T. Norman Investment account,” Richard writes.

Richard also says Florida case law shows Ambler filed his lawsuit too late, even though he knew the Arkansas home had not shown up on Norman’s election disclosure form. Richard contends Ambler knew about the home since 2006, and knew it had not been disclosed by June 2010 — before the primary election.

“By waiting until after the election, Ambler has prejudiced not only Norman but the electorate,” Richard writes.

Ambler’s attorney could file a response Friday, and all briefs on the matter must be filed with the court by Monday for a decision.

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