Thonotosassa resident Alex Sink spent much of her campaign for Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District desperately trying to shake the “carpetbagger” label, which hung like a millstone after she rented a home in the county just so she can run for Congress.
Joel Cantor, whom some Democrats are eyeing as a challenger to U.S. Rep. David Jolly in November, might have to face the same charges. But instead of Hillsborough County, as in Sink’s case, Cantor’s “other home” is Telluride, Colorado.
The issue begins in 2012, when the high-profile developer, best known as the man behind the Signature Place tower in St. Petersburg, famously sold his Davis Island mansion for $5.2 million, making it one of Hillsborough County’s most expensive home sales of the year.
Cantor then told Drew Harrell of the Tampa Bay Times that he was going to “spend more time at his ‘mountain hideaway’ in Telluride with his wife, Shannon (Spellman) and four sons.” At the time, he owned a condominium on St. Pete Beach.
According to his bio on the website for his St. Petersburg-based Cantor + Partners LLC, which remains in the Signature tower, Cantor’s family divides its time between Tampa Bay and Telluride.
As the chatter heats up for a House run, some are questioning what exactly Cantor means by “dividing time.”
In addition to selling the Tampa mansion in 2012, Cantor was also busy in Washington D.C., serving as a top Democratic “bundler” for President Barack Obama. According to NBC News, campaign financial records show Cantor raised $200,000 to $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign.
However, state records suggest that the Democratic power couple did not spend all their efforts in Tampa Bay, or even Florida.
According to Spellman’s Facebook page, along with several photos of the Cantors spending time with the Obamas in the White House, she lists Telluride as her home.
In addition, Florida voter registration records show Spellman’s old Tampa address, dated back to 2012, the same home which sold in October of that year. It suggests one of two possibilities: either she did not vote in 2012 — something unlikely for a major Obama bundler — or Spellman registered to vote in Colorado.
As for Cantor’s St. Pete Beach condominium, which would provide him with the “resident” status that eluded Sink during the special election, Pinellas County tax records show, as of April 30, the address on Maritana Drive is not homesteaded — a key component of establishing residency in Florida. Owners will not homestead vacation homes in Florida and Pinellas County, unlike primary residences, where the designation is required.
A warranty deed in San Miguel County, Colorado also shows Cantor and Spellman owning the home on Hillside Lane in Telluride since April 2009, listing it as an “irrevocable qualified personal residence.”
At this point, it is good to point out that there are no other residency requirements in the U.S. Constitution to run for the House of Representatives, other than they are residents of the state for which they are running. It is why Sink was able to move from Hillsborough to Pinellas, but not before paying the price with her campaign.
If moving only 30 miles can help derail a congressional campaign, imagine what 2,000 miles could do.