Sex Scandals: Is Tallahassee An Escape For Politicians?

What used to be a secret doesn’t seem to be one anymore as more revelations and allegations surface in Tallahassee about politicians.

Politico’s Matt Dixon joined Florida Live with Dan Maduri to discuss the sexual harassment scandals running amok in Florida’s capital.

“It’s always a good idea to have hand sanitizer with you in Tallahassee,” joked Dixon.

Sex scandals seem to have taken hold of Tallahassee and might be around for awhile.

“I think it’s a mix of things. I think some of this stuff has been simmering underneath the surface here in Tallahassee for a while. There’s always been this idea that it’s ‘summer camp’ for adults,” explained Dixon. “That means lawmakers and lobbyists from across the state come to sleepy little Tallahassee and sort of treat it as a summer camp to get away from their wives, their kids, their families, and their responsibilities That dynamic has sort of intersected with this moment of cultural reckoning.”

The most recent scandal involves Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala, who is accused of touching and verbally harassing six unnamed women. Politico Florida was the first to report the allegations and shortly after Senate President Joe Negro called them “atrocious and horrendous” before ordering an investigation.

Latvala, who is from the Tampa Bay area, just announced his campaign for Governor and associated the allegations to a smear campaign.

Florida Senator and candidate for governor, Jack Latvala, speaks during the Florida AP Legislative Day at the Florida Capitol Thursday, Nov 2, 2017. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser.

“There’s a joke that politics is showbiz for ugly people,” explained Dixon. “So a lot of these guys have gone through their lives and not got the time of day so they come up here to Tallahassee and they’re powerful like the officials.”

With scandals coming from all directions, Politico is fielding numerous calls to peg what is real and what is fake.

“After the first story broke about a West Palm Beach Senator named Jeff Clemens, we got a ton of phone calls, and we try to vet them as best we can,” said Dixon. “There are still some stories we have not reported on just because we’re not comfortable (they are true).”

“We’re absolutely making sure we do our due diligence with any tips we get in this regard, but they have certainly been coming fast and furious within the recent month or so.”

With the number of stories flying in, Dixon believes these scandals will have an impact on policies in Tallahassee

“I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like yet because we haven’t had quite this sort of controversy intersecting with a legislative session in awhile,” suggested Dixon. “So I think it’ll be impactful and worth watching moving forward.”