Did Lake Ray profit off of taxpayers? He kept his legislative office for years in a building he owned
Lake Ray will make his case to Beaches voters in political comeback.

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Ray owned the building for decades before his state office set up shop there.

Former Rep. Lake Ray wants to return to the House. But now questions are arising about whether he personally profited off his last stint in Tallahassee.

Property records show Ray, a Jacksonville Republican, owned an office building in Hickman Place where his district office was located from 2011 to 2016.

Expense reports from the time show the move cost the taxpayers. Ray’s office paid a rent of $5,756 a quarter in order to use the office space.

Ray served in the House from 2008 to 2016. During his first two terms, his regional office was located on Regency Square. That three-story office building was owned by the Kinasha Corporation.

But when Ray’s office made the decision to move in 2011, it was to property Ray owned.

Ray had purchased the property in 1990 for $55,000. That’s an investment far less than the rent Ray would ultimately receive on the property during the years his district office operated in the building. The decision to operate an office there raises serious questions about whether Ray personally profited from his time in public office at taxpayer expense.

State law prohibits employees from doing business with the state agency where they work.

“No employee of an agency acting in his or her official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his or her official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his or her own agency from any business entity of which the officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest,” reads a statute related to the conduct of public officers.

Ray told a local TV station that our reporting is a political hit-job.

Lake said his lease arrangement was “reviewed by the state House of Representatives and it’s a common practice with members of the House.”

Ray is correct that the statute we cite contains language that specifically exempts state legislators from the provision cited above.

But in a community where there is an abundant amount of available office space, the question remains: did Ray have to self-deal to himself?

The former lawmaker and current candidate still owns the property; it’s the only commercial property Lake personally owns in Duval County, according to a search of property records.

The move coincided roughly with a 2012 implementation of a new House map following a once-a-decade redistricting process.

Since leaving office, Ray has remained active in the business community. Since 2011, he has served as president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association.

Ray in April moved his candidacy to House District 16, which does not include the Hickman Place office building.

Right now, Ray faces Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Chet Stokes and Angel Mom Kiyan Michael in a Republican Primary in HD 16. The winner of the GOP nomination will face only write-in competition in November, but that means only registered Republicans in the district can vote in the Aug. 23 Primary. That’s in a district under a newly approved House map where 56.8% of voters backed Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Lynn Shimp

    July 20, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    How about charter schools using taxpayer dollars to pay rent to the facilities owned by the for profit management company that owns the charter school?
    As well as paying for improvements to the same facility, again, with taxpayer dollars?

Comments are closed.


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