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Politics

Smile! Legislators Caught on Hidden Surveillance Cameras Secretly Placed in Condo Building

October 31, 2017 - 12:00pm
Oscar Branyon and Jack Latvala
Oscar Branyon and Jack Latvala

Tallahassee lawmakers beware -- watchful eyes are spying on state legislators, hoping to dig up dirt by sneaking glimpses at their personal lives and whereabouts as they move through the state Capitol.

For at least three days during this year’s legislative session, private investigators used surveillance cameras in a Tallahassee condominium building, keeping track of the comings and goings of high-profile lawmakers and lobbyists living -- and visiting -- there. 

A Politico Florida story published Tuesday unveiled a series of discoveries from private eyes hoping to uncover more scandals in the state’s capital city where lawmakers are supposed to work, but new reports suggested some legislators could have been there for more than just a job.

At the center of the controversy in the Politico report is Senate Budget Chief and Republican candidate for governor Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who was the subject of several rounds of spying.

Weeks after the 2017 legislative session wrapped up, Latvala was caught kissing a female lobbyist -- first on the cheek, then on the mouth -- in the parking lot of a local Italian restaurant.

Latvala, who is married, didn’t deny the kiss had taken place but didn’t seem to believe it was too big of a deal.

“I’m sure there are a lot of pictures of me kissing people up there, especially if I have not seen them for a while,” Latvala said in a statement to Politico Florida. “Some people kiss on the lips. Different people have different habits.”

Latvala had been followed for over two years, but he wasn’t the only one being watched.

A report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found Gainesville private investigator Derek Uman set up a secret device in the hallway of the Tennyson condominium building near downtown Tallahassee, where he would track lobbyists and legislators as they roamed the halls, entering and exiting the building. 

Uman isn’t a stranger to professional snooping -- he specializes “infidelity surveillance,” and “political and corporate surveillance.”

The secret tapings went on until Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, found the camera, which had fallen from its position. Dozens of lawmakers live in the Tennyson, so Braynon handed the camera over to the condo’s concierge who then gave it to the FDLE. 

FDLE found Uman had been working within the “full scope” of the law as a private investigator and concluded he had not conducted any criminal acts, promptly closing the investigation. Uman denied being involved with the hidden camera.

Sen. Braynon told the Miami Herald he believed the private investigators could have been the handiwork of former Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned earlier this year after hurling racially-charged insults at a black lawmaker.

“They told me, that he was putting private investigators on legislative people he thought were at fault for his demise,” said Braynon.

Both Latvala and Braynon have had their names in stories revolving around sexual misconduct over the past week when Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned after news broke he had an extramarital affair with a Tallahassee lobbyist. The Artiles connection had some wondering whether the former Miami lawmaker had sent for Clemens, who pressured Artiles to resign and was a fierce critic of his behavior in April.

Latvala and Braynon worked together to “handle” the situation between Clemens and lobbyist Devon West, who left the country before getting a new job working in intergovernmental affairs for Broward County.

Though the rumors of infidelity in Tallahassee are nothing new, private investigators have rarely been thought to be pieces to the scandals. Lawmakers now wait with bated breath as the next shoe prepares to drop, causing many to ponder who, if anyone, will be next to have their dirty laundry aired.

 

 

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

 

Comments

Thank you Senator Artiles for exposing the crooked Tallahassee legislators and their dirty secrets!!

"They had it coming." GOP threw Frank under the bus and hit the gas. Dems, use the "word" like most breathe air. Then invoke "you can't say that unless you're one of us card." They greet each other using that slang. Frank was used as a disposable pawn, to pick up a senate seat for the DEMS. No one was offended, it was all a scam. I hope he takes the all down to h#ll, and then throws gas on them. Bunch of lynch, fornicating cheaters. Oscar and Jack basically run the brothel. If they have any standards, make'em all resign. Lawmakers sleeping with lobbyists is disgusting and puts the state coffers at risk. Just wait until one of the women (and I use that term loosely) sues.

"Oh what a tangled web web we weave, when we practice to deceive.." "Willy Shakes" [Seems Democrat politicians can't be trusted (ever since "Masher Bill Clinton's presidency" when all decorum and ethics were "turned off"]: "Chastity Belts" seem to be in order in THIS century once again.... (But, I CAN understand,.. I never liked being alone in a room with a polition either...it ALWAYS starts with a strong practiced request for a campaign contribution: money, time, or other contributions...

“Oh what a tangled web we weave...” is not Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter. Look it up. The quote is by Sir Walter Scott.

The sex assault thing crazed as the Confederate statute thing. Man does not ask a woman out for a date unless he thinks he wants sex. Woman go on date or not and make up their mind. Been that way for a while. You are allowed to keep asking. Many a woman has been worn down by persistence. What really surprises me now that 30 year old groping and grasping is a retroactive crime, is that no more money hungry sluts have come out of the woodwork about Slick indiscretions. Unless Hillary covered all them up with $100 bills?

Where is the proof that it was Artiles?

Artiles is a jackass, and since he got caught being a jackass, he is determined to expose all the other stupidity that goes on in Tallahassee. Good for all of us, the more transparency into those greasy individuals the better...

“Artiles a good enough guy”. What is he good enough for? Berating and spying on his peers! That’s really a lower than low-life individual. Shakes your hand while stabbing you in the back and then picks your pocket before you fall down.

Artiles got pilloried on the political correctness cross. A supposed racist remark. Although true, you ain't allowed to say that any more. A lot of true things you can't say anymore. Everyone knows they are true but pretends they are not. Could be that Artiles felt betrayed, that he didn't deserve what he got. And got back. Payback is hell.

Payback is hell. Artiles a good enough guy. Only thing this here is some humor at someone elses expense. The bottom line of almost all humor. Who cares except a cheated on spouse? And she may get her revenge too since she undoubtedly knows all the secrets and where the money is.

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