This is just the latest scandal to envelop a Republican member of Florida's House delegation. Several separate agencies are investigating allegations that Rep. Vern Buchanan laundered money to his campaign accounts, and freshman Rep. David Rivera, who was the subject of ethics questions before he joined Congress, was the target of multiple criminal investigations in his first year in Washington.
Stearns's district is a safe Republican seat, and the only person to accuse him of something so far is a political opponent. But at some point, allegations like these go beyond individual congressmen and affect the wider image of Republicans in Florida, and in Washington. As recently as six years ago, cascading scandals crippled House Republicans' ability to make their electoral case. The Florida GOP has not gotten to that point yet, but their slate is not clean, either.