TALLAHASSEE — These days, there are cameras pretty much everywhere—sometimes even where they’re not expected.
Lobbyists and legislators who make their homes on the 6th floor of the “Tennyson” condominium near the Capitol were the subject of unwanted scrutiny via a secret spy camera hidden in the building during the last week of this year’s legislative session.
Some weeks later, Republican Senator Jack Latvala (recently on record for an impassioned plea to the Florida legislature and the governor to extend accommodations to Puerto Ricans displaced to the state by tropical storms) was also caught on camera kissing both the cheek and mouth of a female lobbyist in the parking lot of a Tallahassee restaurant.
Latvala denied the interaction had romantic undertones, stating that it was “nothing I’m ashamed of,” and the lobbyist in question said the same.
Another Senator—Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, a Democrat—was forced to resign Friday following an affair with a lobbyist.
Ironically, it was video surveillance (at the Tennyson) that uncovered the culprit in the spying: private investigator Derek Uman of Clear Capture Investigations, a Gainesville company specializing in—among other things—”infidelity surveillance” and “political and corporate surveillance.”
So if Clear Capture is the hired gun, then where does the money lead? Democratic Senator Oscar Braynon thinks he knows.
Braynon, who hails from Miami Gardens, actually picked out the camera hidden in the Tennyson. He was especially alert after Senate colleagues warned him that Republican Senator Frank Artiles (who was himself forced to resign following a shocking racist tirade in the presence of other senators) was out for revenge against those he blamed for his political downfall.
“They told me that he was putting private investigators on legislative people he thought were at fault for his demise,” Braynon explained.
It’s not known if Artiles actually was involved in the surveillance. Law enforcement officers told Braynon that Uman’s company could have been hired by “a scorned husband, a divorcee, a business partner—we don’t know,” the Democratic Senator confirmed. “There is no direct link to Frank. I don’t know if he did it. All I know is that he told other people in Tallahassee, and they told me.”