Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, used the confirmation hearing of a Florida Elections Commissioner on Monday to question the residency of Democratic Sen. Maria Sachs.
Sachs, in a release, said the question of whether Sachs lives in a building owned by the appointee, Barbra Stern, was a leftover campaign allegation and that the political jabs over where she lives should have “ended the day that session began.”
“I have fully met the requirements of the law regarding legal residency in District 34,” Sachs wrote. “Now, I’m focusing on the work that I was elected to do.”
Latvala, chairman of the Ethics and Elections Committee, joined his committee in voting to support Stern in her appointment to the elections commission. But Latvala expressed displeasure that Gov. Rick Scott’s nominee claimed to be unaware of whether Sachs actually resided in a Fort Lauderdale building that Stern co-owns.
“I’ll kiss your feet if she spent one night in that condominium,” Latvala told a reporter after the committee meeting.
While no complaints have been filed against Sachs, Latvala said he has concerns regarding her qualification to serve and that she may have falsely taken the oath of office.
“The Constitution is very clear that you have be a resident of the district in order to serve in the Legislature,” Latvala said.
In addition to being 21 years of age and having lived in Florida for the prior two years, the state Constitution requires legislators to be a resident of the district they represent when sworn into office.
Sachs and her husband have also owned an equestrian estate in Boca Raton since 1986.
“It’s a troubling situation but this is the best way I can think of to bring it out,” said Latvala.
Stern’s name is on the deed with her mother, Judy Stern, a Broward County lobbyist who is active in South Florida politics.
Barbra Stern said the residence was a gift from her mother upon graduating law school, but she hasn’t been to the apartment since Dec. 2010 and has no knowledge of the current terms of the lease with Sachs.
“I’m really just on there for estate planning purposes,” Stern said. “I don’t have any involvement over there. I don’t pay the condo dues. I don’t pay the mortgage on it. I don’t pay the insurance on it. I don’t pay the taxes on it.”
by Jim Turner