Sun Sentinel calls out Sen. Maria Sachs over residency issue

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The Sun Sentinel is calling for action to resolve residency issues with Florida politicians.

In the wake of the 2010 U.S. Census, political redistricting has become a nightmare for many candidates throughout the state. One notable example is Sen. Maria Sachs.

Sachs has done quite a bit for her constituents in Broward and Palm Beach counties—including securing $82 million for Broward College and $1.5 million for Florida Atlantic University for a new medical school.

The only problem is that the Democrat has not become a full-time resident of District 34, her newly redrawn district, although she rented an apartment in Fort Lauderdale. Both Sachs’ driver’s license and voter registration show the new address, but she spends most of her time in her Boca Raton home.

Sachs also says she and her husband are planning to buy a home in the new district.

The report says she might be following the letter, but not the spirit of the law.

Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala last week called for Gov. Rick Scott to launch a criminal investigation of Sachs and four other Broward lawmakers  for violations of the residency rules.

The four legislators — all Democrats — are Rep. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, Rep. Hazelle Rogers of Lauderdale Lakes, Rep. Joe Gibbons of Hallandale Beach and Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Coral Springs.

Each says they meet residency requirements.

Sachs insists the laws on residency take in account multiple addresses, where people live in more than one location. She says case law backs up her claim and that her intention is to use her downtown apartment as a legal residence. Latvala argues that a domicile has “nothing to do with intent.”

“Sen. Latvala’s letter raises serious concerns,” Scott told the Tampa Bay Times. The governor has directed his lawyers to meet with attorneys for the Legislature. Then, they can decide on the best ways to proceed with a possible criminal investigation. 

Latvala does have an interest in the redistricting/residency issue. He strongly backed Sachs’ challenger — former Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff from Fort Lauderdale. The Sachs-Bogdanoff was the only state competition between two incumbent senators and was the most competitive Florida race of 2012.

A Bogdanoff win would have given Latvala enough votes to become president of the Florida Senate. 

According to the editorial in the Sun Sentinel:

Latvala’s request deserves a response. However, it would be heavy handed for a Republican governor to order a criminal investigation of five Democratic lawmakers, especially since one branch of government has no business interfering in the workings of another.

For a senator who has done a lot of good, but is creating needless distractions, a change of address would be the right move.

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.