Anti-Beckner blog post: A "new low" in Hillsborough?

Commissioner says post endangers his partner, a police officer.

She questions why the property appraisal of the home that Beckner and Sainz share isn't available to look up via a public records request, to determine the assessed value of it. But she answers her own question by quoting Warren Weathers from the county's Property Appraiser's office:


According to Warren Weathers, Deputy Chief Property Appraiser, Beckner’s property assessment records have been listed as a “confidential property” under Florida Statute 119.071. “It is against Florida law for us to disclose any information that is considered confidential,” said Weathers, in response to a public records request. “We cannot confirm or deny any of the information on a confidential property.”


The public may never know the actual value of the sprawling 3,600 sq.ft. lake-front home Beckner jointly owns with his partner Sgt. Gilbert Sainz, because of a Florida law that blocks public access to property records of real estate owned by law enforcement officers.


Sainz is a sergeant and 26-year veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.


Although the address of Sainz and Beckner's home is not revealed in Naffe's post, the address of a neighbor who lives "across the street" from the couple is listed, and that outrages the commissioner, who told CL that he believes Naffe has "created a public safety issue by listing the address."


In fact, Beckner takes issue with the entire story. He says that the sole reason his net worth has increased is the increased value of investments he has made with Ameriprise Financial, the company from which he also collects an additional income as a financial planner, supplementing his annual $94,000 County Commission salary.


Beckner listed the value of his home at $295,000 on his financial disclosure form for 2010, which appears considerably inflated to Naffe in comparison to other comparably sized homes that have been assessed by the Hillsborough Property Appraiser’s office. But the Hillsborough lawmaker says he based that number on the sale of a recent home sold in his area that was smaller in size than his, not on the value assigned by the property appraiser’s office.


CL spoke on background with an attorney quite familiar with election law in Florida. He said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with listing a property’s market value (as opposed to its appraised value) on a disclosure form, nor does Beckner need to list his tax returns, which Naffe questions in her report.


Naffe also questions why Beckner does not list his checking account records on the form. But in fact, the last page of Beckner’s financial disclosure form shows Cash & Equivalents as $7,849.59. Beckner says that’s the record of his checking account at Ameriprise, where he does all his banking.


Beckner says he believes the story is an attempt to somehow link him to former County Commissioner and now state Senator Jim Norman, who became entangled in scandal a year ago when it was reported that his wife had purchased a $435,000 home as a "gift" from the Ralph Hughes, the late Hillsborough County GOP power broker.


The story has certainly excited some Hillsborough County Republicans. On his Facebook page, Josh Burgin, perhaps best known for his unsuccessful campaign to knock off Mark Sharpe in a GOP County Commission primary last year, listed a link to the post. Not all of his "friends" agreed that the story was that significant - or that they approved of essentially listing the address of a police officer.


Naffe also writes that Gil Sainz owns a number of properties. But Beckner counters, “We don’t own any other properties other than our home,” adding that Sainz has been deeded his mother’s home, and will inherit it upon her death. He adds that there is no requirement on the disclosure form for an elected official to list the assets of his partner, unless it’s a rental property or another income-producing asset that is jointly shared.


In a related development, someone has set up a website called kevinbecknerfraudfiles.com. But there’s no content in it; the site merely hints that there will be more stories about Beckner and Sainz. At press time, Naffe had not responded to a request for comment about her blog post.


Beckner sees Naffe’s post as a sad reflection of the current political climate. Citing her GOP background, he says, "It’s unfortunate that extreme far-right radicals, that have caused so much vitriol in Washington, have brought their low-level campaign tactics to Hillsborough, and what’s more unfortunate is …they are taking campaigns to a new low, by attacking a 26-year veteran of law enforcement who puts his life on the line everyday for this community."

  • Kevin Beckner

Hillsborough County Republicans are talking about a recent blog post concerning Commissioner Kevin Beckner’s finances. But a closer look reveals that there’s not much there there.

The blog post was written by Nadia Naffe, a contributor to the conservative website RedCounty.org and former Bush/Cheney field organizer in Florida. She speculates that Beckner’s term as commissioner has been a “financial boon” for him because his net income has increased by $174,000 since he began serving in 2008. She also questions the value he’s listing on his home, which Naffe suggests is wildly inflated in comparison with his neighbors.

But Beckner says the reason his net income is up is because his investments have paid off over the past two years, and the reason his home value is higher than that of his neighbors is because he's basing its price on perceived market value, not appraised value.

Perhaps most controversially, in her post Naffe introduces Beckner's domestic partner, Gil Sainz, into the story.

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