By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog
MIAMI — Florida state senators are getting richer.
Research from FloridaWatchdog.org, using financial statements filed by the lawmakers and published by the state Ethics Commission, shows lawmakers in the upper chamber increased their personal wealth an average of 10.2 percent in 2012.
Republican state Sen. Rene Garcia of Miami saw his fortune grow by 1,329 percent – from $35,000 in 2011 to $500,000 in 2012. Democrat state Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach saw her nest egg increase 149 percent during the same period, officially making her a millionaire, with $2.2 million in assets.
Palm Beach County Democrat state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, grew his net worth by 127 percent, to a little more than $323,000. And Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Democrat from Miami, turned $25,000 into $54,000 during his first year in office..
For Democrat state Sen. Darren Soto of Orlando, the financial picture improved significantly. In 2011, Soto reported being $75,000 in debt. By 2012, that debt had been reduced to about $32,000. Soto has a bachelor’s degree in economics and attended law school at George Washington University.
For state Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat from Jacksonville, moving to the Senate from the state House seemed a reversal of fortune. She reported having only $600 in 2012, a far cry from the more than $110,000 she reported in 2010. She was elected to the state Senate in a 2011 special election and won re-election last year.
Nancy Detert, a Sarasota Republican and member of the board of directors for Enterprise Florida, lost 16.29 percent of her wealth in 2012, falling from $224,471 in 2011 to $187,900 in 2012.
According to a study by government watchdog agency IntegrityFlorida.org, last year’s median net worth of all Florida legislators — senators and representatives — increased 15 percent.
Florida Watchdog’s research was done using Florida senators’ financial statement disclosures, uploaded on the Florida Ethics Commission website. Disclosure were filed between June 2012 to September 2013. The average figure calculation represented does not include Democrat Sen. Darren Soto, who has a debt.
Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org twitter @mtoledoreporter