Since the end of September, someone has been birding Hialeah councilor Oscar De la Rosa, taking photos of the young lawyer, filming him with a hidden video camera and recording the movement of his vehicle via GPS.
Last week, an anonymous tire released photos, videos and other documentation of participation regarding De la Rosa in the Google Drive folder. New Times first got a link to Google Drive from a well-connected tipster who got it from a burner account on social media. Days later, another tipster went along identical links.
A Google user, named “Justice Hialeah,” claimed that surveillance showed De la Rosa living in a residence in Coral Gables, not at his registered address, in the house of Hialeah’s mother and stepfather of the 28-year-old councilor, Miami -Dade County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who is running for mayor in the November 3 elections.
“Oscar doesn’t actually live at that stated address, neither at the time of his candidacy and election, nor now as a council member,” the document in a Google Drive folder states.
It seems that the timing of the ejection of information is not accidental. The above document refers to Bovo and claims that the candidate for mayor is “involved in this”.
“Since the address Oscar used to run was Bovo’s own home, Bovo was aware that Oscar had committed the crime and if anything helped him in this effort,” the document said.
A relative newcomer to politics, De la Rosa was elected to Hialeah City Council last November and will not be re-elected until 2023. When he contacts him New Times, said he suspected the surveillance operation had more to do with his stepfather’s tragic campaign. Bovo, a longtime politician, is against in the November 3 election against fellow county commissioner Danielle Levine Cava.
Among the Google Drive files are two logs that reportedly show GPS tracking of De la Rosa’s car. According to the records, the councilor spent two consecutive nights at a house in Coral Gables in late September. (New Times could not independently verify that the GPS records were authentic.)
A video camera that appears to have been set up across from the Coral Gables house, recorded De la Rosin Range Rover coming and going from the property as early as 5:20 a.m. and even at 10:21 p.m. for several days. The paparazzi-style photos show De la Rosa in the backyard in front of the house with a young woman, and his car is parked on a grassy cover right next to the street.
The Google Drive folder also includes a two-minute video that appears to have been captured by a body camera. The person carrying the camera delivered the flowers to the Coral Gables house on the afternoon of October 9, according to the time stamp.
De la Rosa looked confused when he opened the door.
“You didn’t order it?” the delivery man asked.
“No, I didn’t,” De la Rosa replied.
When the delivery man asked if anyone else at the address could order flowers, De la Rosa replied, “I mean, it’s not my house.”
Achieved New Times, De la Rosa says that his girlfriend lives in the house of Coral Gables and that he sometimes stays there overnight.
“That’s her leased name,” he says. “I hang out at my girlfriend’s house.”
De la Rosa says he lives in Hialeah’s house with his mother and Bova.
“We live together,” he says. “I’ve lived in Hialeah for over 20 years.”
Councilor Hialeah Oscar De la Rosa was filmed in front of a house in Coral Gables on October 6th.
The coat and dagger surveillance operation is very unusual, even by Miami-Dade political standards. While newspapers love it Miami Herald he used to send secret details to journalists – the most famous were his journalists caught then-presidential candidate Gary Hart at his home in DC with a woman who was not his wife – the financial crisis in the industry left meager funds for that kind of shoe-leather.
This makes the stakes in De la Rosa even more bizarre. New Times could not determine who carried out or ordered the supervision, but timestamps show that it was carried out over a period of at least 11 days, suggesting a significant investment of time and money.
And for what purpose?
In Florida, an MP can be arrested for falsely claiming to live in his district, but the chance of being arrested is high.
If De la Rosa simply slept with his girlfriend, he says, he is unlikely to break Florida law, says Peter Cruise, director of the LeRoy Collins Public Ethics Academy at Florida Atlantic University.
“I think where you sleep at night is entirely up to you and where you sleep, but it has nothing to do with staying in this state,” Cruise says. New Times.
De la Rosa, for his part, says he has done nothing wrong.
“This is 115 percent of complete political slander,” he says.
Bovo did not respond to phone messages or emails to his county commission office and his campaign headquarters.
A campaign spokesman for Levine Cava says for New Times her campaign had nothing to do with the surveillance materials and she only found out about them after they contacted her New Times.
Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Steve Simeonidis also denies the party had anything to do with the details of the oversight.
“It’s definitely not from us. This is the first I’ve heard of a Google drive or something,” he says New Times.
Hialeah’s city code states that anyone who is a resident of the city and meets other qualifications in Florida can apply for the position. The state demands that the candidate is at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of Florida.
The question of where an elected official lives, albeit seemingly simple, can prove to be a complex legal calculation. In Florida, residence is usually defined as a home in which the candidate “intends” to have a permanent place of residence. (The Orlando Sentinel recently published a detailed report about how difficult it can be to determine the actual whereabouts of politicians.)
But elected officials can also be arrested for lying about official residence. To build the case, prosecutors often spend months talking to landlords and neighbors or following applications for exemption from home and other documentation. Recently, Sweetwater Commissioner Sophia Lacayo he resigned in late August after pleading guilty to an indictment for perjury in connection with her residence. The property owner told prosecutors he did not live in the house.
In Florida, there are no clear guidelines on how many nights an elected official must stay at his or her declared residence, says Cruise, an FAU ethics expert. Typically, the issue of residence must be resolved in court if an appeal is filed against the politician.
Cruise says these hearings boil down to one question: “What does ‘live’ mean?” Courts generally give elected officials suspicion of what they call home, he says.
“Do you have to be there physically 24/7? No. Do you have to be there 51 percent of your time? That legal standard has yet to be determined. [Florida] The legislature, ”Cruise says New Times.
It is unclear whether the allegation of residence is being investigated against De la Rosa in any official capacity. Spokesmen for both the Miami-Dade Attorney General’s Office and the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission said New Times they could not confirm or deny the existence of the investigation.
De la Rosa provided New Times with copies of her driver’s license, voter registration card, and American Express account, all listed as the address at the Hialeah House, which she says she shares with her mother and stepfather. In Florida, those documents can be used for strengthening application for the residence of the representative.
A New Times a reporter visited the estate in Coral Gables on Tuesday morning, but no one opened the door. The porch light was on, but there were no cars parked in either the front or rear driveway. Neighbors said they did not know De la Rosa.
Says Coral Gables property owner Vivian De Val New Times that, although she did not know De la Rosa, she rented a home to a woman who had the same name as De la Rosa’s girlfriend.
New Times she was unable to contact girlfriend De la Rose, but contacted her mother, who confirmed by email that her daughter lives on the Coral Gables estate.
After learning he was under surveillance, De la Rosa says he felt upset. He insists that his life situation is excessive.
“I have been duly elected and meet all the legal requirements for residence as a Hialeah City Councilor,” he wrote in an email to New Times.
Staff writer Joshua Ceballos contributed to the reporting for this story.