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Politics

Daisy Baez Faces Possible Fraud Charges After Allegedly Breaking Homestead Exemption Law

May 22, 2017 - 1:15pm
Daisy Baez
Daisy Baez

New suspicions are swirling that freshman state Rep. Daisy Baez could face fraud charges both for living outside her district and for homestead exemption fraud for declaring multiple exemptions on properties she doesn’t actually live at, according to records. 

The Miami Herald reported last week that Baez is currently not living inside her district, which already violates the Florida constitution, but with multiple homestead exemptions under her belt, lawyers are asking new questions over whether Baez is double-dipping into the state's tax break system and committing fraud elsewhere, too.

According to the Miami Dade Property Appraiser’s website, Baez is declaring a homestead exemption in House District 114, the area the Miami Democrat represents but has acknowledged she doesn’t actually live in.

Baez is also declaring a homestead exemption for one of her residences in HD 112 as well. State law says homeowners can only have one primary residence -- but in this case, Baez has two.

Homestead exemptions, which are essentially large tax breaks, are designed to protect homeowners by prohibiting increases more than three percent per year on the assessed value of homestead properties.

There are some caveats, though, and not every property is eligible for the tax break. 

In order to receive a homestead exemption, state law requires Floridians actually live in the houses, be registered to vote at only that address and homeowners cannot rent out those property to anyone else while declaring the exemption, since renting is considered legal abandonment of a property.

Baez is also not registered to vote in HD 114, and a “For Rent” sign just popped up at her residence in HD 112 -- which some say also could violate Florida homestead exemption law. 

“You either live in your homestead or you don’t,” State Chair of Republican National Lawyers Association Jesus Suarez told Sunshine State News Monday morning. “She is either lying to taxpayers and her voters saying she lives in her district when she doesn’t, or she is committing homestead fraud.” 

Suarez says Baez’s shifty actions make her guilty of homestead exemption fraud, which is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison or a fine of $5,000.

“We all wonder [where she actually lives,] but the point is she’s either lied to the Division of Elections or she is lying to the Property Appraiser’s office,” Suarez said. “She has certainly lied to the citizens of the state of Florida who have paid her to go to Tallahassee and represent their interests when she is constitutionally unqualified for that office.”

Baez’s trouble began last week when the Miami Herald uncovered she had been living outside of her House district, violating Florida law. 

Malaga Ave House. Click to Enlarge
Malaga Ave House. Click to Enlarge

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.”

Florida requires lawmakers to live and vote in the districts they represent by Election Day. 

Baez's other residence. Click to Enlarge
Baez's other residence. Click to Enlarge

Election records found Baez had done a last-minute voter registration change to a Coral Gables apartment in HD 114 boundaries Nov. 2, just six days before Election Day. Baez allegedly rents out that residence and does not live in the apartment building listed on records.

The allegations led to a domino effect for Baez, who was running as a Democrat for a newly-vacated Miami-Dade Senate seat. After the Herald story got out, Baez dropped out of the race, where Democrats had already largely paved the way for her to sweep the primary nomination.

Things have changed quickly for Baez. By Monday morning, protesters were standing outside her HD 112 residence, requesting she resign

SSN contacted both the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami Property Appraiser’s office to determine whether an investigation would be launched into Baez’s possible homestead exemption fraud.

The State Attorney would neither confirm nor deny there was an investigation into Baez’s possible carpetbagging.

"Every single day of the week there are hardworking people in Dade County that make mistakes and are held to account by the State Attorney and Property Appraiser's office and have to respond to having broken the law," Suarez told SSN. "This person goes up to Tallahassee to represent our interests and is violating state law. How can we have trust in our legislators if they [are breaking the law] and aren't even even qualifying correctly?"

The Property Appraiser's office had not returned SSN's calls by the time of this article's publication.

SSN contacted Rep. Baez for comment but had not received a response 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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Comments

This article is an absolute disaster! I'm a young voter and truly dislike these tactics right before a special election. The writer really thinks a republican will win to replace Artiles, with tactics like this ridiculous article, it won't sway any voter from voting democratic.

It took you 17 paragraphs before you labeled her a Democrat!! If she'd been Republican, that would have been in the title - bold large type!!

This is the Democratic party rebranding!

I hope they keep digging on her. There is much more to find about this women. Maybe property insurance false. 2 claims l heard. Among others things. Buying votes!!!

GEEEZ,...For shame sake at least wait a lllitttlle while before "ripping off" the Taxpayers Daisy....My goodness, it seems YOU took office ALREADY trained in the "art of the scam"... You really should stop sleeping around Daisy, it's unbecoming of someone of your political position (Well, maybe not)...At LEAST stay in your district...[Let's see what the legislature does about HER "crimes".....]

Another unfortunate example of either stupid people being elected or of an individual that thought they could get away with something. She needs to see the SAME treatment as any average citizen doing the same.

typical democrat....liar, thief of taxes payers money & scream racist if you catch them in any Corruption...

She needs to resign ASAP. She is corrupt, she is a liar and most importantly, she is stupid!

This reporting on this website is really bias. I did a search for Erik Fresen and nothing came up about him pleading guilty in federal court for not filing a tax return for 9 years and lying about his income on state disclosure forms. Seriously... who cares really, if you ask me they both should be in jail. Just report it fairly, that's all I'm saying.

And this is her first year in office! I guess she made a little 'mistake' due to her not fully comprehending the law. Time to charge her, lock her up, and bring in another candidate, maybe they'll be honest!

why people don't vote! Your vote doesn't matter. Daisy must not have been in law school.! Now THOSE are smart people who have been schooled in proper lying! "I did not have sex with that woman!"

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