Florida state Sens. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and Anitere Flores, R-Miami, issued a joint statement acknowledging that “our longtime friendship evolved to a level that we deeply regret” after an anonymous website, featuring what appear to be surveillance photos and video, claimed the senators were “actively engaged in inappropriate extramarital activities with each other.”
Braynon and Flores issued a joint statement through longtime Tallahassee public relations firm Sachs Communications just before the Senate convened to open the 2018 legislative session.
“As this 2018 session of the Florida Legislature gets underway, we do not want gossip and rumors to distract from the important business of the people,” the statement said. “That’s why we are issuing this brief statement to acknowledge that our longtime friendship evolved to a level that we deeply regret. We have sought the forgiveness of our families, and also seek the forgiveness of our constituents and God. We ask everyone else to respect and provide our families the privacy that they deserve as we move past this to focus on the important work ahead.”
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who is heading up the Senate’s effort to update its sexual harassment policies, said the relationship between Braynon and Flores is “a private matter.”
Benacquisto added: “We’re all elected officials who stand in the public square and we do that willingly. And we all have an obligation to behave in a way that honors the time away from our family and the service on behalf of our constituents.”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, was asked by reporters if he had concerns about lawmakers being under surveillance. Corcoran said legislators need to recognize “the world we live in” and behave appropriately.
“If you walk down the street, if you come in this chamber, if you’re out at dinner, whatever — if you don’t think that someone can flip up a phone and video you and now we’re going to say that those are the bad guys? Not the behavior that they caught on video?…It’s the world we live in. Wake up every day and try to be the best you can to be a good person. We’re all going to fail. We’re all going to come short. But recognize in this era, the thing that you might fall short on could be very likely on video and in most cases is,” Corcoran said.
Gov. Rick Scott was asked about Braynon and Flores on Tuesday afternoon.
“First off, your heart goes out to anybody that their family goes through some of the things that those two senators are going to deal with with their families. You hate for it to happen to any family, and so my prayers are with them,” Scott said.