In HD 2, ethics complaint against Democrat Jeremy Lau likely to trigger investigation and public concern

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According to a complaint filed Wednesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics, Jeremy Lau, the Democratic candidate in House District 2, failed to properly disclose his financial interests and intentionally misrepresented his net worth in violation of the constitution and laws of Florida.

Lau, a Democrat, listed his net worth on Form 6 as $0, despite listing $213,037.57 in liabilities and only $6,000 in assets including household goods and personal effects.  This would imply a misrepresentation of $206,037.57, which according to the complaint, was done to avoid listing a negative net worth.

Indeed, no bank accounts, investment accounts or ownership in real property were reported on the Form 6.  Further, according to the complaint, Lau failed to report his ownership in real property asset in Escambia County, valued at $83.354. The failure to disclose property ownership is a violation of Art. II, Sec. 8(a)(i)(1), Fla. Const., and §112.3144, Florida Statutes.

The complaint was filed by Wayne Smyly of Milton, US veteran and conservative organizer.  

“Mr. Lau’s violations of the ethics laws and constitutional requirements of the state of Florida represent a serious breach of the public trust and conduct not becoming of an individual seeking to serve in the Florida House of Representatives,” the complaint reads.  “These serious constitutional and statutory violations should be investigated immediately.”

Lau is an aircraft mechanic, Navy veteran and president of the IAM Local 2777.  He faces Republican Mike Hill in the upcoming Special Election. 

Hill, a veteran of the US Air Force and graduate of the US Air Force Academy, is a Panhandle small business leader and devoted husband and father.

The Ethics Commission uses a three-step process when considering complaints such as these against Lau.  It first determines whether the allegations of the complaint are legally sufficient, and if so, conducts an investigation to determine if there is probably cause to believe a violation had occurred.  If probable cause is found, the Commission decides whether the law was actually violated and, if so, what penalty should be recommended.

While this complaint against Lau is still in the first stage, it appears clear that the complaint’s basis is legally sufficient to warrant investigation by the Commission — and surely to warrant concern among voters.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.