Newly elected GOP lawmaker asks Florida judge to throw out lawsuit challenging his election
Image via Redondo Law Firm.

Mike Redondo -- Redondo Law Firm
'The court must dismiss this matter for lack of jurisdiction.'

Newly elected Republican Rep. Mike Redondo is asking a judge in South Florida to throw out a lawsuit filed by his Democratic campaign opponent that seeks to remove him from office. He is accused of not living in his legislative district and therefore isn’t qualified to be a state lawmaker.

Redondo, a Miami Republican, this week filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying that a county Judge or state circuit Judge doesn’t have authority to rule in the matter. He said under Florida’s Constitution and state law such disputes are settled by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“The court must dismiss this matter for lack of jurisdiction,” Redondo’s motion said. It added: “The sole body constitutionally empowered to hear the instant action would be the Florida House.”

The motion also asked the Judge to award him attorney’s fees and court costs. Redondo, who did not respond to phone calls or texts this week, did not address in his court filing the claim that he was not a resident of the district where he was elected.

Voters elected Redondo to his seat in House District 118 in a Special Election Dec. 5. He defeated Democrat Johnny Gonzalo Farias 52% to 46% by a slimmer-than-expected margin of 540 votes in the heavily leaning GOP district.

Redondo also said in the motion that Farias’ lawsuit should have named as defendants the county Supervisor of Elections, the House and the Secretary of State.

Redondo, who runs his own law firm in Miami, was being represented in the case by the Tallahassee-based Coates Law Firm, which has worked for the Republican Party of Florida and other GOP candidates and specializes in cases of election law and government ethics.

Questions about Redondo’s residency emerged in the hours after his election. Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, published a news article late Dec. 5. It noted Redondo had in May signed a $727,000 mortgage agreement on a waterfront condominium 20 miles away, in District 113, requiring him to live in the condo as his principal residence for at least one year beginning, at the latest, 60 days after signing.

Only approval from his mortgage lender, City National Bank of Florida, would allow him to make his principal residence elsewhere, according to the document. The bank has said it will not discuss the matter publicly. No updated mortgage documents have been filed with the county.

When asked about the agreement in a Dec. 4 interview, Redondo said he did not know whether he had this approval from his lender to live elsewhere.

Redondo leased an apartment in the district in June. His voter registration records on Friday continued to list that as his primary residence.

Redondo said in an interview Dec. 8 with American Lawyer Media that he had spoken with his lender and that there were no residency issues regarding the mortgage agreement.

Farias, his Democratic opponent, sued Redondo on Dec. 14, seeking an injunction to prevent Redondo from taking office as a House member. That didn’t happen.

Redondo has been in the Capitol for weeks for committee hearings already and was formally recognized as a lawmaker earlier this week when the House convened Tuesday to launch the 60-day Legislative Session. He has introduced at least five bills, including one that would toughen penalties for drivers who cause crashes that injure or kill pedestrians, bicyclists or highway workers.

In his lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County Court, Farias said that since Florida requires legislative candidates to live in the district where they are running by the day of the election, Redondo wasn’t qualified to run for or hold the seat. He accused Redondo of failing to live in the district on the day of the election, citing the terms of the mortgage agreement.

The lawsuit cited the condo mortgage provision and Redondo’s 2023 real estate property taxes. Some tax statements were mailed as recently as December to an address in the same condo building where Redondo bought the unit, where he previously had rented another condo.

___

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]. You can donate to support our students here.

Devon Crumpacker


One comment

  • Phil Morton

    January 14, 2024 at 9:22 am

    I beg to differ: “Jay Jabour was elected as a Group 2 at-large councilman in 2007 and resigned in February 2008 after a Duval County judge ruled he didn’t meet residency requirements. He also had run for a Southside district seat in 2003.” There are other examples of judges stepping in to correct a mistake.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704