Rep. Janet Cruz
Photo from Florida House of Representatives

One week after a Tampa resident filed a complaint against State Representative Janet Cruz with the Florida Ethics Commission, another Tampa resident has filed a complaint with the House of Representatives. The subject of both – where the House Democratic Leader actually lives. 

In a 51 page document sent to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and obtained by FLA News, Tampa resident Rocio Paulsen alleges Cruz actually lives in the 7800 square foot home owned by her husband on San Miguel Street in Hillsborough County, which is outside the House District Cruz currently represents. Paulsen’s letter to Speaker Corcoran alleges Cruz is in violation of legislative rules and the Florida Constitution. Cruz rents a 1000 square foot home on Fremont Avenue inside the House District 62 boundaries she’s elected to represent. Rep. Cruz’ is also registered to vote at the Fremont Avenue rental home. 

But the complaint to House Speaker Corcoran raises several discrepancies. Another person is also registered to vote at the Fremont Avenue rental property. The letter to Corcoran asks, “This raises the question as to why someone who reports a new worth of over $1.1 million, has been married for 15 years, would choose to live in a house worth $121,000, share a bathroom with a roommate when she could live in a 7,800 square foot luxury waterfront home worth over $2 million with her husband?” 

In additional, according to Cruz’ financial disclosure form, her automobile lease and rental income from a third property are tied to the San Miguel Street home listed in her husband’s name. 

Where Cruz lives has been an issue since she was first elected to the Florida House in 2010. Rep. Cruz was forced to repay $32,000 to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser for claiming two homestead exemptions, though the law only allows for one. 

And last week FLA News reported on a separate ethics complaint filed against Cruz for failing to report her rent on the Fremont Avenue home as a liability on the state’s financial disclosure form, which is required by law. 

Cruz is term limited in the House seat and a candidate for the Florida Senate. However as a current member of the state house, her residency is still under the jurisdiction of the Florida House. 

The most recent complaint provides thirteen exhibits ranging from Cruz’ financial disclosure to Hillsborough County property appraiser reports. 

In the letter to Speaker Corcoran, the accuser – Ms. Paulsen, asks for a full investigation of Rep. Cruz. 

“These exhibits clearly indicate substantial discrepancies in Cruz’s claims of her permanent legal residence being 4816 N. Fremont A venue. In sum, Cruz is clearly violating the residency requirements of a member of the Florida House. I hereby submit this complaint to the Florida House and request that you conduct a full investigation into these allegations.”

Speaker Corcoran has, in the past, taken allegations of House members living outside of their elected districts seriously. After a House investigation, former Representative Daisy Baez was forced to resign from her Miami-Date County House seat for a similar allegation. She was then pleaded guilty to lying on her voter registration form. However, with just three weeks before Cruz faces current State Senator Dana Young in the District 18 race time may be running out on investigating these allegations. 

David Bishop is a native Floridian, husband and father. During his 30 year career, David has been a journalist, political operative and communications consultant.