State Sen. Jack Latvala — he is still a senator and will be until tonight at midnight when his resignation takes effect — is all but gone but he’s not been forgotten.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to conduct a preliminary review of evidence alleging sexual harassment and possible political corruption against the Clearwater Republican. As of Thursday morning, that review was continuing.
Tiffany Cruz, the attorney representing Rachel Perrin Rogers, the key figure in the sexual harassment claims, says FDLE investigators have yet to speak with her client. Cruz has said she expects that will happen at some point.
“I think that would make sense but I’m not sure how much of the report and complaints they will investigate,” Cruz said.
Cruz says she’s not surprised that she and her client haven’t been contacted yet.
“Not completely since there was the holiday,” Cruz said. “Additionally, I imagine they are doing background first before doing any interviews.”
The allegations against Latvala first surfaced in early November when Perrin Rogers and five other women spoke anonymously to Politico alleging Latvala had made inappropriate comments and/or touched them inappropriately.
Perrin Rogers was the only woman to file a complaint with the Senate Rules committee against Latvala. She went public with her charges after claiming that Latvala was using tactics to intimidate her and out her to the media.
The women’s claims forced the Senate to hire two outside legal officials to conduct investigations. The results of their work were damning for Latvala. Both concluded there was probable cause to proceed with an investigation into Latvala’s actions. One of the reports went so far as to suggest he may be guilty of public corruption after reports surfaced that he offered his support for legislative initiatives in exchange for sex.
Latvala has denied he did anything wrong, except for perhaps making some inappropriate comments to women.
On Dec. 20, facing the findings of the two reports and growing calls for his resignation, Latvala submitted a letter to Senate President Joe Negron that he was stepping down.
“I have maintained that the charges in the original complaint are fabrications and say that still today,” Latvala wrote. “I have had enough.”
In his letter, Latvala said his “political adversaries have latched onto this effort [#metoo] to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me.”
Now, knowing of his bulldog nature, those adversaries are reportedly wondering what Latvala might have planned in retaliation for the injustice he believes was bestowed upon him.
Latvala is still technically a candidate for governor. His gubernatorial and political committees have close to $5 million combined. That’s money that he can pretty much do what he politically wants to do with it, including going after his “adversaries.”
Sen. Tom Lee, a colleague of Latvala’s for years, told Politico that there is a lot of talk about what Latvala might do next.
“I can confirm it is not lost on both his allies and [adversaries] that former Sen. Latvala still has about $4 million that he can employ in a variety of manners,” said state Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon). “It has been a frequent topic of conversation.”
It’s been speculated that Latvala could use that money to target those political adversaries.
Others have suggested he use the money in his political accounts to help others.
In an open letter to Latvala released Wednesday, Marion Hammer, former NRA president and sometimes foe of Latvala, suggested he donate $1 million to the Dyslexia Research Institute, Inc. in Tallahassee, specifically the scholarship fund that helps dyslexic children in need attend the Woodland Hall Academy
“You can make a difference. You can have a positive impact on the lives of many of these children…You can give a bright future and a whole new world to children who only need for you to open the door,” wrote Hammer.
Which course will Latvala decides to take with his campaign funds — retaliation or benevolence?
The only thing for sure at this point is that come midnight, Sen. Jack Latvala will be a former senator and his seat will be vacant when the 2018 Legislature is gaveled into session Tuesday morning.
He may be gone. But, you can be sure he hasn’t been forgotten.