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“All these stories, and all these allegations, are they being instigated by other legislators with a singular purpose?
Is it being strategic, or is it being done for the purpose of truly bringing justice to the system?
“They justify it by saying, ‘Guys are human beings,’ and ‘Tallahassee is for the mistresses, and home is for the wives,’” Trujillo said. There’s no honor there.” In addition to the Latvala investigation, Negron was forced to defend the Senate’s sexual harassment policies, claiming it has “zero tolerance” for using legislative power to seek favors. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican and veteran lawmaker, said she welcomes the attention on sexual harassment. It happens all the time.” The sense that people can get away with this kind of behavior in Tallahassee is widespread.
“There’s constant commentary that men say to women, and maybe a lot of time it’s innocent,” she said. Oh, that dress looks really great on you.’” A typical offhand remark often includes the suggestion that a woman might be doing well in politics because she is somehow inappropriately involved with a man, she said. One of the tools of the trade is the use of attractive young men and women who are hired by lobbyists to show up in the Capitol and nearby bars in the closing weeks of legislative sessions, flirt with lawmakers, and maybe even offer sexual favors. ‘Mac’ Stipanovich, a capital fixture for more than three decades as a staffer, political strategist and lobbyist, said that Tallahassee traditionally operated with a “code of silence” that protected questionable after-hours behavior.
He specifically recalled a House colleague happily walking through a hotel lobby with a woman on each arm.
“It was pretty darn loose, and people’s conduct was not always exemplary,” D’Alemberte said.
This is not the first time sexual escapades have consumed Tallahassee.
In the 1960s and ’70s, lawmakers would spend evenings at “the trailers,” a group of mobile homes in a rural part of Tallahassee where they enjoyed thick steaks, red wine and, legend has it, the company of women, courtesy of a trade group.
(He denied a romantic relationship with the lobbyist, and the lobbyist sent Politico a sworn statement denying it as well.) Read here: “Someone’s spying on Florida legislators.
Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican and critic of the “culture of Tallahassee that compromises the process” because “priorities are shaped not on policy, but on relationships.” Related: Florida Senate’s top Democrat resigns after admitting affair with lobbyist Update: “State Senate’s top lawyer cites conflict, exits Latvala harassment investigation” For decades, that culture used attractive people as tools to cajole the powerful, and rumors of affairs were used to extort favors.
Now, in the era of Harvey Weinstein and social media, women have been empowered to speak out about sexual harassment.
” The dangerous mix of exploiting rumors of sex between consenting adults, and serious accusations about victimizing women, has the potential to turn Florida’s next legislative session into an emotional powder keg.
“Session is starting now and our state has been ravaged by a hurricane that caused destruction and taught lessons and now you have this black hole consuming everything,” Diaz said.
But in Tallahassee, where questions are raised about the political motive of every leaked allegation, the claims of unidentified accusers can get tangled in the bitter political forces of Florida’s 2018 election year.