Dan Bongino faced questions about his residency, and whether it should be a factor in his current congressional bid, during a press conference Monday
Bongino, a Palm City Republican, called the press conference to address recent media coverage, including a fight with POLITICO reporter Marc Caputo over the weekend. But several of the questions he fielded were about his inability to vote in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, where he is running for office.
The former Secret Service agent and author lives in Martin County, and is not registered to vote in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. He said he wasn’t breaking any laws by not being a legal resident of the district he’s running in, and said he rents an apartment in Naples.
“I live in the county. I’ve been putting my head down here for two months. I have a place in Palm City, I go back on the weekend. I don’t have the money like Francis Rooney to buy multiple homes,” he told reporters.
Rooney, a Naples Republican, and Chauncey Goss, a Sanibel Island Republican, are also running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. Bongino has taken a swing at Rooney, who has poured millions of his own wealth into the race, in the past.
“This is not by any stretch a unique case. There are people in the state of Florida that have second residences where they go when they’re running for office because there is no requirement,” he said. “If you’re talking about where someone campaigns and puts their head down, what restaurants they’re eating in right now, that’s me. I’m doing the best I can with the amount of assets I have as a middle class guy to represent the citizens of the district as the only conservative in the race. I’m doing my best to transplant the operation.”
Bongino, the Naples Daily News reported, bought a home in Palm City in July 2015. His family moved to Florida, he said Monday, at his wife’s request. His wife, he said, has lupus and wanted to live closer to her mother, who has homes in Florida.
The family moved after Bongino ran twice unsuccessfully for office in Maryland, first for the U.S. Senate in 2012 and then for the U.S. House in 2014. He was believed to be considering a run in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, but decided to jump into the race in Southwest Florida when Rep. Curt Clawson announced he wasn’t running for re-election.
His residency and knowledge of the district has come into question before. During a forum earlier this summer, he was asked to name the all of incorporated cities in the district, but was unable to do so.
Bongino has been a vocal critic of the Naples Daily News’ coverage of the race, and on Sunday got into a heated exchange with Caputo. The disagreement started when Caputo asked him to clarify criticisms of the Naples Daily News. The two men went back and forth on Twitter, before, according to a POLITICO Florida story, Bongino gave Caputo his phone number.
Caputo recorded the 17-minute phone conversation. It was laced with profanities, and ended when Bongino hung up on Caputo.
Bongino didn’t back down Monday, though he did say he “could have passed on a few ‘f-bombs’ there.” He continued to criticize Caputo, saying he was “angry that we fight back.”
Caputo said on Twitter that he didn’t attack Bongino’s motivations for moving to Florida, just said “he moved here and began running for his third office in a row.”