Two Florida lawmakers admit affair and apologize as legislative session opens

Redacción Agencias | 1/10/2018, 6:36 a.m.
Two Florida lawmakers admit affair and apologize as legislative session opens
Flores y Braynon se disculparon | Foto Cortesía

The Florida Legislature was abuzz Tuesday morning after an anonymous website claimed to have photographic evidence of an affair between state Sens. Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens and Anitere Flores of Miami.

Shortly before the session began, the two veteran lawmakers issued a joint statement saying that they “do not want gossip and rumors to distract from the important business of the people.” However, they acknowledged “our longtime friendship evolved to a level that we deeply regret.”

“We have sought the forgiveness of our families, and also seek the forgiveness of our constituents and God,” the statement read. “We ask everyone else to respect and provide our families the privacy that they deserve as we move past this to focus on the important work ahead.”

Braynon, a Democrat, is the leader of the 15-member Senate Democratic Caucus. Flores, a Republican, chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and is one of Senate President Joe Negron’s closest advisers.

The website gave the impression that it was the work of a private investigator, complete with what appeared to be a written report and video clips claiming to show Flores entering and leaving Braynon’s condo.

There is no information on the website regarding who owns it, who wrote the text that appears there or who supplied the video.

In the final week of the 2017 legislative session, Braynon found a covert surveillance camera on the sixth floor of the Tennyson condominium near the Capitol. Braynon and Flores rent condos across from each other on that floor.

Braynon alerted building officials, who called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FDLE investigated and learned that a video camera found in the hallway of the common area was owned by private investigator Derek Uman from Gainesville. His company, Clear Capture Investigations, specializes in insurance fraud and “infidelity surveillance,” as well as “political and corporate surveillance.”

The building’s own video cameras showed Uman moving the device to new positions over a period of days before Braynon found it.

Braynon told the Herald/Times in November that he spotted something that had fallen underneath a hall table. He reached for it, and found the camera with a power pack, its power light covered over with tape.

Braynon had reason to suspect he was being watched. Two weeks earlier, Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, had resigned after apologizing for a tirade of racially charged remarks to fellow senators. Braynon’s Senate colleagues had told him that the scorned Artiles wanted revenge.