TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Someone has been spying on Florida lawmakers.
A surveillance camera was found earlier this year in a condo building where many lawmakers stay just blocks from the state Capitol. But an investigation by the Department of Law Enforcement sheds little light on the who or why.
A hidden camera was found by the Senate's Democratic leader on the sixth floor of the Tennyson Condominium, just four blocks from the Capitol, in May. The condo is a home-away-from-home for multiple lawmakers and at least one statewide elected official.
An investigation by the Department of Law Enforcement traced the camera back to a Gainesville private investigator.
Reached by phone, Derek Uman said he had no comment.
State Sen. Jack Latvala was one potential subject of the investigation. He received grainy photos of interactions with a lobbyist.
"There have been no inappropriate activity between me and my 20-year friend," Latvala said.
He spoke with us by phone.
"There's a lot of rumors floating around about different senators, different folks they're going to try to target and make our lives difficult," Latvala said.
Law enforcement said Uman was acting within the full scope of the law as a licensed private investigator.
There is speculation, but not proof, that the private investigation was being conducted at the behest of a state senator who was forced to resign earlier this year.
Sen. Frank Artiles resigned last April after making racist remarks and being linked to questionable political spending.
We asked if Latvala thought he was at the center of the investigation.
"I don't know," Latvala said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report also said there was no recording media in the camera, raising the question of whether it was sending video wirelessly to another receiver.
After the private investigator said he had no comment, we received a call from his attorney asking for specific questions. We have yet to hear back with answers as to the breadth or length of the investigation.