State Rep. Daisy Baez is now facing a residency complaint over allegations she doesn’t actually live in the district she represents in the Florida House of Representatives.
The Miami Democrat's troubles residency woes seem to only intensify as days go by.
On Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported that a Coral Gables voter filed a complaint against Baez, alleging she is breaking state law by living outside of the district she represents.
Coral Gables Republican voter Christian Rodriguez sent a formal residency complaint to the Florida House of Representatives May 29, requesting Baez be removed immediately from her position since she doesn’t officially reside in HD 114, the district she is supposed to be representing.
The Florida Constitution says state lawmakers must actually live in the districts they represent in Tallahassee.
Last month, the Herald found Baez had been living in a house in HD 112, a little over a mile away from HD 114.
Miami blogger Elaine de Valle reported that Baez seemingly acknowledged she sleeps outside her district in her Malaga Avenue house in HD 112, but Baez said she was on the hunt for a house inside HD 114 boundary lines -- nearly seven months after being elected to the Florida House of Representatives.
“Right now, I’m sleeping at that house, yes. But I think I don’t want to talk about the situation any more,” she told de Valle at the time. “I’m trying to correct the situation.”
A few weeks later, Baez has apparently righted her situation and is now a full-time resident in the district she should have been living in all along.
Baez called news stories about her residency mixup "distractions" from “important issues” facing the state and her community.
“I currently live in the district I represent and right now my focus is on the special session and my continued efforts to push for more responsibility and transparency when handling our tax dollars, to protect our public schools and the environment and to bring better paying jobs to the district,” she said Tuesday.
Baez can’t breathe easy just yet, though.
If the owners of the apartment in which she was supposed to be living in in HD 114, Robert and Maritza Jacobson, are renting the unit out to Baez, they could indeed committing homestead exemption fraud, Miami-Dade Property Appraiser spokesperson Claudia Miro confirmed to Sunshine State News last month.
That would make Baez a party to the crime.
The Jacobsons claimed the property as their primary residence on their homestead exemption papers, according to the Miami Dade County Property Appraiser’s website. Voter records show all three people living at the Anderson Road apartment.
Florida law requires homeowners to actually live where they declare a homestead exemption, which means renting for more than 30 days in two consecutive years is off the table.
It’s uncertain whether Baez actually knew the Jacobsons were declaring homestead exemption on the condo before she rented it out last November.
If Baez was living in the apartment rent-free, it's possible she could also be violating the state's gift ban law.
Rodriguez said he submitted the complaint to the Miami-Dade State Attorney, Miami-Dade clerk of courts, the county’s property appraiser, the Florida Commission on Ethics and the Florida Secretary of State.
Sunshine State News contacted Baez for further comment but had not received a response at the time of this article’s release.
Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.