Lake Ray used taxpayer money to pay rent at a property he owns: State law says its okay

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A local Republican candidate running for State House District 16 is defending himself after an article published in Florida Politics raised questions over his choice of a district office when he previously served in the Florida House.

Ray doesn’t deny using an office he owned personally for his district office, arguing it’s allowed under state law.


Ray moved his old district office into an office building owned by him in 2011, which meant he essentially paid himself rent for use of the facilities.

The article published in Florida Politics put a spotlight on Lake Ray’s decision to use an office he owned personally for his district office while serving in the Florida House between 2011 and 2016 saying it, “Raises serious questions about whether Ray personally profited from his time in public office at taxpayer expense.”

Ray, who is now running again for the State House, called the article a political hit-job. “It was reviewed by the state house of representatives and it’s a common practice with members of the House,” said Ray. The article does cite a state statute which prohibits employees of state agencies from renting from themselves or family members in their official capacity. But when we reviewed the statute, we noticed an additional line, which specifically exempts state legislators from that provision.

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Ben Wilcox, with Integrity Florida, told us he doesn’t believe Ray violated the law. “I think it could look bad to the public, but clearly the law allows legislators to do that,” said Wilcox.

Ray said he charged himself roughly $1,500 a month in rent, but he added rent for his office actually dropped by about $400 a month when he moved into his own building, which he characterizes as a responsible use of taxpayer dollars. “It was best for the constituents. It saved money,” said Ray.

Ray said he’s continued passing along savings to taxpayers during his time out of office, by renting the space to State Representative Clay Yarborough.

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Ray said he charges Yarborough the same rent he charged himself while in office.

When asked if he would rent to himself if he wins his current race, Ray said it’s unlikely.

His district office will likely change, as his old office is not located in the district he’s running in this time around.

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