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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Broward resident filed ethics complaint against senator for violating residency laws

28

June

A Broward Republican voter has filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Maria Sachs, a Democrat, accusing her of leasing a Fort Lauderdale apartment to comply with the residency requirements of her district which stretches from Delray Beach to Fort Lauderdale.  Download Sachs.Ethics.Complaint 

Matthew G. Feiler, 32, filed the complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission accusing Sachs of violating state ethics laws, committing perjury for signing an oath of office paperwork claiming she lived in Broward County, and violating Article III, section 15 (c) of the Florida Constitution which requires legislators to live in the district they are representing.

Feiler, a registered Republican living in Tamarac, according to Broward County voter registration records,  cited a television news report by Bob Norman of Channel 10 news who obtained video footage from a private investigator showing Sachs arriving at night at the Boca Raton home she owns with her husband in Boca Raton and leaving the next morning. 

The report did not indicate who paid for the private investigator to stalk Sachs. Sachs was re-elected to the Senate in November after a bitter election battle against former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. 

Update: Sachs denied the allegations and attributed them to "partisan Republican attacks."

"Of course I live in my district,'' she said in a statement. "I love to call the 34th District home. Republicans have spent millions attacking me and those attacks unfortunately did not stop with the election.  But sadly, the Republicans' well-funded attacks against me are getting more and more personal, but the people in my district aren't buying it. And everyone I represent can be certain of this, too: I'm not going to take my eye off what's important for a single moment. I'm focused on my constituents and their needs." She told the Herald/Times in March that she signed a lease to rent the condo on NE 9th St. in Fort Lauderdale from her long-time friend Judy Stern and, according to voter registration records, ses the address on her Broward County voter registration form.

Bogdanoff is expected to seek a re-match in the fight and her vote could be a crucial one in the 2016 Senate presidency race, in which Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, a Bogdanoff ally, is believed to be in a virtual tie for votes against Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City. 

Latvala, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, raised the issue of Sachs' residency when Stern's daughter, Barbra, was up for Senate confirmation to the Florida Elections Commission.

The Florida Ethics Commission is charged with investigating state ethics laws but officials there said they believe this would more appropriately be an allegation that would be investigated by the state attorney. It is not clear if Feiler has referred his complaint to any other legal authorities as well.

Feiler would not comment when reached by phone. 

Update: Media Trackers, the conservative online site that describes itself as promoting "accountability in the media" reported Thursday that the Florida Bar has opened an investigation into House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston for allegations that he is also violating his residency requirements.  

[Last modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 4:58pm]

    

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