The Republican primary for Florida’s 116th House District just got a little uglier.
On Friday, the battle for the GOP nomination in Florida’s 116th House District spilled over into the legal system, with political insider Jose Mallea filing a lawsuit against opponent Daniel Perez, alleging the South Florida attorney falsified campaign documents to say he lives in a district when he actually does not.
The suit alleges Perez made false claims about his residency in his campaign filing documents and asks the court to nullify his candidacy entirely.
Mallea is requesting the court declare Perez ineligible to be a candidate for office, to decertify his candidacy, remove his name from the ballot and refuse to certify any votes cast for him because he allegedly doesn’t live in the district.
Mallea filed the lawsuit Friday in Leon County.
Last week, the Miami Herald published a story alleging political newcomer Daniel Perez’s home address is nothing but a “shell of a house,” which is totally unlivable due to being under full construction.
The house on Southwest 84th Street in Kendallwood where Perez says he lives is empty, the subject of an extensive home renovation project.
Perez has listed the address on his homestead exemption, his voter registration and his driver’s license, though he doesn’t actually sleep in the Kendallwood house.
Perez’s home, Mallea says, does not meet the requirements to be an official candidate — and so Perez, he says, must go.
“Daniel Perez’s relationship with the truth is estranged at best,” said Mallea. “To knowingly identify an uninhabitable building with no roof as his address is the latest in his pattern of lies. The voters of District 116 deserve a representative whose campaign and service in office begins and ends on a foundation of truth, and, unfortunately, that is not the case with Daniel Perez.”
State law requires candidates to live in their districts by Election Day, which would be Sept. 26 if Perez beat his opponent, Jose Mallea, in the July 25 primary. Mallea announced the suit Friday afternoon.
Under Florida law, it is a felony to file a false sworn statement in connection with an election.
Perez’s team dismissed the suit as another tactic to fling mud onto the campaign for the Republican nomination in the Miami district.
“Danny’s campaign is plowing ahead to a landslide victory on July 25th,” campaign consultant David Custin told Sunshine State News Friday. “The suit will get dismissed. It’s a sad, desperate and pathetic ploy without merit by Mallea and his campaign team.”
Last week, Perez’s campaign unveiled a Spanish-language television ad attacking Mallea for living outside of the district as well.
“[Mallea] has received thousands of dollars from special interests to run in a district he doesn’t live in,” the narrator says in the 30-second clip.
According to the Herald, Mallea is now renting an apartment within district lines in Doral as of June 15.
Despite that, Mallea, Custin contends, has no connections to the district and merely saw and seized an opportunity to run for office only for the title — with no real connection to the people or the culture of HD116.
“He’s basically a carpetbagger,” Custin said. “He’s never lived in the district. He just moved in after he filed. If he wants to make that case to the district, good luck.”
Perez’s campaign team says his connections to HD116 run much deeper, since he grew up in the district, attended school there and from their perspective, has a “better handle” on what’s really important to the voters in HD116.
The two Republicans will face off July 25 in the primary. The winner of the special election primary will then run against Democrat Gabriele Mayaudon for the seat recently vacated by Jose Felix “Pepe” Diaz, who is running for Florida Senate.