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Dem. Fla. House Minority leader running for attorney general amid residency scandal

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Perry-Thurston

A South Florida lawmaker, who mat be breaking the law each day he serves in the Florida House of Representatives, announced he’s seeking to unseat Pam Bondi as the state’s chief legal officer.

House Minority Leader Perry E. Thurston Jr., a Democrat who hails from Fort Lauderdale, declared his intention to run for attorney general Tuesday, during the Florida Democratic Party convention at the Disney Beach and Yacht Club Resort, according to Media Trackers.

Thurston has been working under a cloud of suspicion for residing outside the district he represents, in violation of the Florida Constitution.

Media Trackers reported:

Facing term limits in 2014, many Broward political insiders expected Thurston to challenge Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, but wondered if scandals would derail his political aspirations. One highly placed Florida Democrat source told Media Trackers Florida that a Thurston bid would be used to increase minority voter turnout in Broward County in order to help Charlie Crist’s expected gubernatorial bid. Thurston appeared to confirm this in a statement to the Miami Herald.

Pam Bondi on FF
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
“I think we can drive up turnout, but more importantly, Pam Bondi is vulnerable and we can win,” Thurston said. “I have a proven track record of raising funds and winning races.”

But there’s that little matter of the state’s chief legal officer serving for years in violation of the law. Article III, Section 15(c) of the Florida Constitution provides, “Each legislator shall be at least twenty-one years of age, an elector and resident of the district from which elected and shall have resided in the state for a period of two years prior to election.”

For voting purposes, Thurston claims as his official residence the home of Frances Merricks, a 71-year-old Lauderhill woman and the mother of a former client in a felony case.

When a local TV news reporter repeatedly caught Thurston living in a home outside his district, he admitted to doing so “occasionally” and “when I want to.”

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