Former state lawmaker Daisy Baez pleaded guilty to charges of perjury for lying about her address on a voter registration form on Wednesday, exactly a week after she resigned from the Florida House of Representatives.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle determined Baez had been inconsistent in the statements she gave under under oath regarding her residency and Fernandez Rundle ultimately decided to press charges.
Ultimately, Baez accepted a misdemeanor plea deal which said she had to quit her post as a state representative, pay a $1,000 fine and take an ethics course. She will also be banned from serving public office for one year as part of a yearlong probation term.
“She apologizes to the community for having mistaken her obligations in changing her voter registration early, earlier than she should have done,” said Baez’s attorney Ben Kuehne.
Baez’s residency woes made headlines this summer after the Miami Herald found Baez had been living in a house in HD 112, a little over a mile away from HD 114, the district she was actually elected to represent last November.
The Florida Constitution says state lawmakers must actually live in the districts they represent in Tallahassee.
Miami blogger Elaine de Valle reported that Baez seemingly acknowledged she was sleeping 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 apparently righted her situation and said she was a full-time resident in the district she should have been living in all along, but her problems didn’t stop there.
It wasn’t long before Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, assembled an ethics panel to investigate the Miami Democrat’s residency.
The panel said last month there was “sufficient” evidence to conclude Baez failed to live in her district when she was sworn into office, a violation of Florida law.
Before the House panel could make any conclusions, reports broke Baez had struck a plea deal for lying under oath, a charge which could have been a third-degree felony had she been convicted.
Baez’s resignation was the second in less than week for state Democrats, who lost one of their senators -- Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth -- after POLITICO Florida reported he had been involved in an extramarital affair with a Tallahassee lobbyist.
A special election to replace Baez, who represented parts of the Miami area, has not yet been set.