Janet Cruz 2nd homestead exemption revoked - says she'll pay more than $30K in back taxes

Interestingly, though, as the story had real juice, the second time the Times reported on it just four days before the Democratic Primary between Cruz, Pat Kemp and Gil Sanchez, they buried the lede behind a report about Kemp's spouse from 11 years before (information that came to the paper from the Cruz camp, but which the Tampa Tribune deemed irrelevant).

On the night of the general election between Cruz and her Republican opponent, Hunter Chamberlin, last month, Politics in Tampa reported on its site that afternoon that Cruz had been found guilty of taking the second exemption.

Chamberlin lost badly to Cruz in that race.  Although he made mention of the fact that Cruz did not live in District 58, he said that he did not want to revisit any of the charges made in the primary between Cruz and Kemp, saying the election should be about the issues.

Janet Cruz will be up for election again this November in what has been a pretty solid Democratic seat.  She received strong backing from the Tampa Democratic establishment in her primary run, so it's questionable how much this revelation might hurt her in the fall.

Although newly elected state Representative Janet Cruz dismissed the stories as "smears" by her Democratic opponent in the House District 58 special election primary back  in January, the St. Pete Times today confirms that Cruz has been found to be in violation of state law that allows family units to claim only one homestead exemption, and has been hit with a lien on the house where she claimed a second exemption in South Tampa.

The Times' Janet Zink reports:

County officials say Cruz owes $32,752 in penalties and unpaid taxes from 2004 through 2008. That does not include 15 percent annual interest, which will add thousands of dollars to the required payment.

Cruz, who can fight the lien in court, said Wednesday she will pay the bill.

"I have always operated within what I thought was my obligation as a taxpayer. As soon as this was brought to my attention, I immediately contacted the Property Appraiser's Office and went through the proper channels to remedy this situation," she said in a prepared statement. "I will certainly do what any responsible citizen would do and pay what I am obligated to pay."

The charge that Cruz was taking an illegal second homestead exemption was first broken by the local Tampa political blog Politics in Tampa back in January, leading the Times to do a couple of reports on the issue (the blog wrote about the lien being placed on the Empedrado Street house on March 12).

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