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Antone opponent files residency complaint with Florida  Ethics Commission

June 5, 2024 at 12:36:10 PM

Lucy Dillon


State Rep. Bruce Antone's opponent has accused him of not living in District 41, the district he was elected to represent. He says the "allegations are false."

“I deal in truth. The truth is, he doesn’t live in the district,” Janét Marie Buford-Johnson told VoxPopuli in a phone interview Tuesday, referring to Democratic State Rep. Bruce Antone, who she’s challenging for the House District 41 seat in the Aug. 20 election.

A hospitality professional and first-time candidate, Buford-Johnson filed a complaint in early May with the Florida Ethics Commission, alleging that Antone does not live in District 41 and has not for years. This was first reported Tuesday by the Orlando Sentinel. 

Current questions about Antone’s residency arose in April after Fresh Take Florida, a news outlet of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, found that the seven-term lawmaker was registered to vote at an address outside his district. The Orlando Sentinel reported then that Antone was living in District 40, represented by Democrat LaVon Bracy Davis, at an address where he was registered to vote and where he received mail. He listed the address on his campaign paperwork for the 2022 election. The Orlando Sentinel found he had listed multiple other addresses in Districts 40 and 41 on official documents over the years. 

The Florida Constitution requires that state representatives live in their districts. The Orlando Sentinel noted that prosecutors may file criminal charges for perjury if they believe that someone has lied on official documents.  

Buford-Johnson, who’s lived in the district’s Orlo Vista community for years, said Antone had “failed” the community and “has been doing so for years.” 

Her letter states that Antone should never have been elected and asks that he be “prosecuted and held responsible for his lack of care for the constituents of District 41.”

“He’s not vested in our community because he does not live here,” she told VoxPopuli. 

This is not the first time questions about Antone’s residency have come up. In 2020, while Antone was running for Orange County School Board in District 5, his opponent, current County Commissioner Mike Scott, sued him, alleging he didn’t live in the district. Antone exited the race before the case went to court.

It's unclear what, if anything, will be done here. The state Ethics Commission has declined to pursue similar cases in the past because it has no jurisdiction over residency issues. The Florida House has jurisdiction over its members’ qualifications to serve, including residency. 

Antone did not respond to multiple requests from VoxPopui for comment, but told an Orlando Sentinel reporter, “Apparently this seems to be the only way she thinks she can win, but her allegations are “false.” 

 Buford-Johnson told VoxPopuli that’s “totally fine,” that she is “unbothered by his words.” 

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