UPDATED MONDAY EVENING TO INCLUDE SEN. BENACQUISTO'S COMMENTS. A prominent Tampa businessman said Sunday he is still waiting to hear if the chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee is going to investigate the extramarital affair of Sens. Anitere Flores and Oscar Braynon.
Tad J. Humphreys, 61, wrote to Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, on Jan. 11 asking two questions he believes the Flores-Braynon affair raises:
How it affects "the advancement or conversely, the lack of progress, of good public policy;" and
Whether the senators violated Florida's sunshine laws.
Benacquisto, however, said her staff spent much of the day looking for Humphreys' letter, and as far as she can tell, it never arrived at her Capitol office where Humphreys said it was sent via U.S. mail the Thursday before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
"We reached him by phone and he said he would resend the letter when he returns to his office," the senator told Sunshine State News. "But he said he won't be back for two weeks."
Recapping the genesis of Humphreys' letter: The relationship between Flores and Braynon had long been rumored in Tallahassee by Jan. 9, when an anonymous texter leaked surveillance "evidence" of the couple going back and forth between cross-the-hall apartments at The Tennyson.
The two senators immediately issued a joint statement, admitting their relationship grew beyond friendship and apologizing to their constituents for it.
"... We do not want gossip and rumors to distract from the important business of the people," they wrote. "That's why we are issuing this brief statement to acknowledge that our longtime friendship evolved to a level that we deeply regret."
Humphreys emphasized in his letter to Benacquisto, "In some instances (Senate Minority Leader Braynon and President Pro Tempore Flores) serve on the same committee. With that framework, it begs the question of how their relationship had a bearing on the outcome of legislation. ... Please consider this as a request that the Rules Committee staff look at the correlation between the Senate Democratic Caucus documentation during the time of the Flores-Braynon affair and determine which bills were either not put on an agenda or did not pass the committees Senator Flores served or they both serve together."
About Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, Humphreys says "the law, in essence, is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the legislature to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken."
Listed as CEO of Padgett Swann MacHinery Co., marine and mechanical engineering subsidiary of International Ship Repair of Tampa, Humphreys said he is asking for the investigation only as a citizen, he doesn't represent anyone else. "I think I said it all in my letter, I don't have much more to add. But somehow, I don't think I'm going to hear back from Sen. Benacquisto."
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith
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