Delinquent property taxes add to Rouson’s financial woes

in Uncategorized by

Once again, finances are starting to become a serious problem for state Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg.

Rouson, 58, purchased a townhome in Tallahassee in 2010, but failed to make three years of property tax payments, the Tampa Bay Times reports.  The property could soon be up for auction.

Rouson also recently used his St. Petersburg property as collateral for $20,000 in loans from a relative.

Delinquent property tax payments are just the most recent money troubles challenging Rouson. He has a decades-long history of riding out economic storms.

Nearly 15 years ago, Rouson was temporarily homeless. He uses that experience to help him as an advocate for the homeless. Since then, Rouson endorsed designating homelessness as a hate crime in Florida.

As an outspoken lawyer and lawmaker, Rouson has also been a passionate anti-drug crusader, after struggles with addiction to crack cocaine. His proposal to strengthen the restriction on the sale of pot pipes and bongs just passed the Legislature this year.

In 2002, Rouson declared bankruptcy after owing more than $360,000 to the IRS. With his wife Angela, Rouson took out a loan to build their 4,400 square-foot home, later refinanced for more than $550,000.

For his current tax troubles, Rouson received several warning letters from Leon County Tax Collector. However, the former member of a state tax commission missed the April 24 deadline.

Even though the property in Tallahassee is up for a tax deed sale this year, Rouson (or the mortgage holder) can pay past due taxes, with interest, at any time before the auction.

“Obviously I don’t live there full time, and I have someone who gets the mail,” Rouson told the Times. “That’s no huge excuse.”

“I’ll immediately take care of it,” he added.

Adding to Rouson’s financial woes, last month he left his job as an attorney for Tampa-based mega law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Morgan & Morgan founder John Morgan blames Rouson’s political career for the split with an organization that paid Rouson $565,000 annually. Morgan said Rouson needed to focus on politics.

“It’s hard to be a trial lawyer if you’re not in trial. It’s hard to be in a Tampa court room if you’re always in Tallahassee,” Morgan told a reporter at the Miami Herald while confirming Rouson had left.

Florida lawmakers are required to report any assets and liabilities annually that exceed $1,000. Neither the condominium nor the mortgage was on Rouson’s 2010 financial disclosure statement. The condo was on a 2011 financial disclosure, but not the mortgage.

The penalty for nondisclosure could include anything from a reprimand to removal from office. However, it is more common for violators to pay civil fines up to $10,000.

“It was an oversight, ” Rouson said to reporters about the three years in back taxes. “Nobody’s trying to get over on somebody.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.