The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause to believe that Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, failed to properly disclose a Tallahassee condo along with her state legislative income on three years’ worth of financial disclosures.
But, since Sachs amended the forms, the panel will not take further action unless Sachs requests a hearing, according to a press release issued by the Commission this morning.
Former Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein filed the complaint against Sachs last fall in the lead-up to the November election, as the Democrat was embroiled in a bitter campaign battle against former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. Sachs defeated Bogdanoff in the chase for a newly drawn District 34 seat, one of the state’s most hotly contested Senate races.
In a closed-door session Friday, the panel found probable cause that Sachs failed to properly disclose information about the Tallahassee condo, income from her legislative salary and her net worth on her 2008, 2009 and 2010 financial disclosures. Sachs listed her Tallahassee apartment, which she and her husband Peter purchased for $330,000 in 2008, on her 2011 financial disclosures along with her income as a senator. Forms filed in 2009 and 2010 did not include either asset.
Sachs said the complaint, filed by Dinerstein just weeks before the November election, was a political attack and that the omissions were unintentional.
“I feel good about it. It’s over. It was a nasty campaign and now it’s all over and I’m ready to start on policy,” she said.
Sachs was also embroiled in a separate condo-related dispute earlier this year, about whether she lives in her district or not.
Barbara Stern and her mother, lobbyist and longtime Sachs friend Judy Stern, are listed as owners of the 740-square-foot unit in Fort Lauderdale in Sachs’ district. Sachs owns a house with her husband just outside District 34 in Boca Raton, but rents the condo and lists it as her residence. The Florida Constitution requires legislators to live in the districts they represent.
The conservative MediaTrackers.org website said in in April that it visited Sachs’ Fort Lauderdale address on April 2 and was told by a neighbor that the unit had been vacant for at least six months.
Sachs, who has said she pays $950 monthly rent for the unit, disputed the MediaTrackers report.
“I have fully met the requirements of the law regarding legal residency in District 34,” Sachs said in an April email.