TALLAHASSEE — In a national atmosphere of extreme polarization, two Florida lawmakers have shown that Democrats and Republicans can, in fact, get along.
State Senators Oscar Braynon (D) of Miami Gardens and Anitere Flores (R) of Miami were outed Tuesday by an anonymous website that purported to have photo proof that the pair had indulged in an affair.
Before the session, Braynon and Flores issued a statement explaining they “do not want gossip and rumors to distract from the important business of the people.” They did, however, admit that their “longtime friendship evolved to a level that [they] deeply regret.”
The lawmakers went on to ask forgiveness of their families and of God and to request that their families be afforded privacy at this time.
Braynon has a wife and two sons; Flores has a husband and also has two sons.
The mysterious website implied the data and video gathered came from a private investigator. This isn’t Braynon’s first run-in with surveillance; in October, the Senator found a spy camera hidden in the “Tennyson” condominium near the Capitol where many legislators and lobbyists reside. The camera in that incident was linked to a private investigator specializing in “infidelity surveillance,” and Braynon suspected his recently-ousted Senate colleague Frank Artiles of gunning for him.
Artiles, a Republican, had resigned in disgrace after a racist tirade and word was that he was out for revenge against those he saw as his political enemies.
Clearly a house in turmoil, the Florida Senate cannot seem to shake these sorts of incidents. In October, Senate Democrat Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth resigned after admitting to an affair with a lobbyist, and Republican Senator Jack Latvala of Clearwater crashed and burned amid allegations of sexual harassment as well as improperly fraternizing with a female lobbyist.
Senate President Joe Negron wasted no time responding to this latest instance of infidelity, opening Tuesday’s sessions with the following remarks:
“I would like to begin today by addressing a very important issue that addresses not only the Florida Senate, but also our counterparts in Congress, the entertainment industry, employers large and small across the country, and our culture in general,” Negron said. “Let me be clear: The Florida Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or misconduct of any time against any employee or visitor.”
Whether parts of this statement could apply to a seemingly consensual relationship of peers like the one between Braynon and Flores is, perhaps, a matter of interpretation.
Whatever fallout the adulterous pair of lawmakers will endure remains to be seen.