Florida law isn't murky when it comes to residency requirements for state representatives: "Upon taking office" you must be living and voting in your district. Pretty simple, right?
Well, five months after getting sworn to represent a district in West Kendall, Republican Frank Artiles is still living in his $300,000 Palmetto Bay home. Ex-Herald reporter Elaine de Valle caught him there red-handed on Monday night watching a Miami Heat game in his gym pants.
De Valle confronted the politician when he answered his front door in socks, saying, "You are not supposed to be living here."
Artiles told her that he's moving next week to West Kendall, but then slammed the door and hid in the kitchen when Del Valle asked him for an address and took out her camera. ("There's a fine line between journalism and stalking," de Valle writes, explaining why she eventually gave up on getting a photo and went home.)
Since then, the freshman legislator has kept hiding from reporters. The Miami Herald reports this morning that he dodged calls on the House floor, waved at a reporter and then ignored more texts and phone calls.
The paper found that, indeed, in the last election Artiles registered and voted by absentee ballot in his Palmetto Bay district, not District 119, where he won his seat.
No one has filed a formal complaint yet, but Artiles could end up facing a $13,000-plus fine over his shenanigans.
In his young political career, Artiles already has a notable history of stretching the truth. His biggest splash so far as a legislator has been co-sponsoring a silly bill that would ban doctors from asking patients about gun ownership. (Because our American freedoms are clearly imperiled by pediatricians discussing gun safety with parents.)
While discussing the bill with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Artiles insisted repeatedly that his law would only make it illegal to not treat patients based on gun ownership, not to ask about it.
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Check out the video below for Cooper on his next episode, when he's read the text of the bill which clearly shows Artiles was blowing smoke. (The representative refused to come back on camera to talk about his misstatements.)
"As for why he was so adamantly inaccurate last night, we'll let you be the judge of that," Cooper says.