ABC 28 report on Jim Norman does raise some questions (video)

Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman is running for the state Senate in District 12, which encompasses much of Pasco and a good part of northern Hillsborough county.  He's also in a contested GOP primary with representative Kevin Ambler, who made news today with his call (with Paula Dockery) for the state to discuss implementing get tough on illegal immigrant legislation.  Last week Commissioner Norman said he agreed for such legislation, but downplayed the notion of having it discussed during next week's special session.

Now Norman is making news, and not in the way he wants.  Last night, WFTS Channel 28, the ABC affiliate, aired a story that Norman owns two boats registered in Arkansas that he does not list on his official financial disclosure reports, and in addition,  his wife owns an Arkansas home valued at $435,000, also not listed.  From reporter Alan Cohn:

From the script: While the Normans' Tampa home and cars are listed in both their names, the vacation home is listed solely in the name of the commissioner's wife Mearline. State law does not require the spouses of office holders to disclose assets they own individually.

The 2800 square foot home with three bedrooms, central air, and a private dock is valued at $435,000. A title search shows it was purchased by Mearline in 2006 without so much as a mortgage or any kind of loan.

When asked if Norman knew how his wife was able to purchase that house, he said, "I'm not involved with that. I do not get involved with her financial decisions. That is her business."

But Commissioner Norman's comments to us about the house, and the fact it is listed solely in his wife's name, raised more questions than they answered.

While the commissioner repeatedly claimed that "My wife runs a business," and "She has investors and investments," Mearline is not listed on the State's website as the owner or officer of any company in Florida.

Local real estate legal expert Alan Fields said Norman's explanation the vacation home was bought as an investment and that there are investors is "implausible.”

Stay tuned to this story.

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