Double fault: Florida House candidate suspended from HOA & tennis club

Article Courtesy of Florida Politics

By Drew Wilson

Published October 22, 2018

After a trio of violations, the Bermuda High West Beach & Tennis Club handed Delray Beach Republican Mike Caruso and his wife, Tracey, a six-month suspension from the high-class coterie.

The Bermuda High Beach and Tennis Club operates and maintains the beach club and tennis facilities for those who are members of Bermuda High West condominium Association, Inc. And the adjacent ocean crest property members.

When serving up that drop shot to the HD 89 candidate and his wife, club president William Green said that Caruso’s “blatant disregard for the rules and the lack of respect given to your fellow members in unacceptable.”

According to violation letters sent out by the club, the fount of friction between the club and the candidate stems from Caruso’s use of the property as an ad-hoc campaign headquarters.

As one of the letters, dated April 2018, puts it, Caruso and his “guests and campaign associates completely occupied the Club … the Club was congested with filming equipment which hindered the use for other members.”

Further down the letter, Green says “members were inconvenienced while enjoying the outside patio, and asked to ‘shhhh’, and finally asked to leave so filming could continue. The blatant disregard for the rules and the lack of respect given to your fellow members in unacceptable.”

That contravention came just a few months after the club swinged the South Florida pol for failing to ask of permission and pay the necessary deposit to host a party of more than 10 people on the premises.

A spokesman for Caruso said the campaign had no comment on the matter.

While the tennis club calamity seems to hold little importance on its face, Caruso’s campaign finance reports list about $9,300 worth of expenditures for photography and video production services around the same time he was cited for crowding out fellow members with camera equipment.

While guerrilla filmmaking is of questionable legality among the nonconformist crowd, and squatting is nothing uncommon among crustier Floridians, those practices crack open a whole ‘nother can of worms when done by a political campaign.

Campaigns must pay fair market value for the use of the location for his campaign video and photo shoot. Additionally, the membership appears to be in the name of Caruso’s wife. If the club provided her some latitude in the beginning of Caruso’s campaign, that’d have to be marked down as an “in-kind” contribution.

Caruso is up against Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio in the race for HD 89, the seat currently held by term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager.

The district covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County and is one of the few dots of red within the strongly Democratic county.

HD 89 was one of only six districts in the entire state to flip from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an analysis by MCI Maps and in 2018 the race between Bonfiglio and Caruso is considered to be a potential flip.

Election Day is Nov. 6.