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Politics

Did Daisy Baez Violate Florida's Gift Ban Law?

May 24, 2017 - 5:45pm
Daisy Baez
Daisy Baez

There is apparently more than one Daisy Baez in Miami-Dade County. 

“I can confirm there are at least two different Daisy Baezes living in Miami-Dade County,” Claudia Miro, spokesperson for the Miami Dade Property Appraiser’s Office told Sunshine State News Tuesday. 
 
GOP lawyers initially claimed Baez, a Democratic freshman in the Florida House, was committing homestead exemption fraud, but that doesn't appear to be the case after all. 
 
Three residences popped up under “Daisy Baez” in Miami, but one of those them -- the one at Southwest 130th Court -- turned out not to be the state legislator Daisy J. Baez, but a 58 year-old, non-Hispanic NPA voter.
 
Rep. Baez is 57 years old and a Democrat.
 
Miami GOP chair and attorney Nelson Diaz disagreed with GOP attorney Jesus Suarez over a homestead exemption fraud, and instead pointed the finger at Robert and Maritza Jacobson.
 
“I don’t think [the accusation of Baez’s homestead exemption fraud] carries too much water, but where there is homestead exemption fraud is if she is living on Anderson Road,” Diaz told Sunshine State News. “If (the Jacobsons) are renting out a room to her, then they are committing fraud.”
 
Baez can’t breathe easy just yet, though.
 
If the owners of the apartment in which she’s supposed to be living in HD 114 are indeed committing homestead exemption fraud, that would make Baez a party to the crime, Miro confirmed Tuesday.
 
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. 
 
Baez’s Anderson Road apartment raises more questions than just the homestead exemption issue, though. A question also left unanswered is whether she is actually a paying tenant at the condo building. Miami GOP chair Nelson Diaz raised the question to SSN earlier this week, because details of Baez's living situation are already sketchy.

The freshman lawmaker made a last-minute change of address just six days before Election Day last year, qualifying her to run in HD 114.
 
If Baez is living rent-free, though, she could be violating the state’s gift ban law, a huge no-no for legislators. 
 
Florida statute says state lawmakers cannot receive real estate or use real property as part of the gift ban. 

Multiple requests for a copy of the lease and answers as to how much Baez is paying each month to live at Anderson Road were unfulfilled at the time of this article’s release. 
 
Calls to the apartment’s owner, Maritza Jacobson, a Realtor for Sotheby’s International, went unanswered as well.

The punishment for violating the state's gift ban law could trigger an investigation from the House, but the more likely result would be Baez reporting the "gift."

 Diaz said Baez was definitely committing some kind of fraud, but said a more likely case could be made for voter registration fraud or for violating the gift ban.
 
“She’s clearly living in [the Malaga] house,” he told SSN. “We saw her there. She is clearly committing voter registration fraud and maybe violating the gift ban as well.”
 
The Miami Herald initially reported Baez had been living outside of her House district. 
 
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. “I’m trying to correct the situation. I made an offer on a property today.”
 
Baez had not responded to several phone calls at the time of this article's release.

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

 
 

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