Two South Florida politicians call it quits after state law ruling

MIAMI, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Public School board vice chair Lubby Navarro will leave her post and so will Miami Shores council member Crystal Wagar, Local 10 learned Friday.

Both resignations come a day after a federal judge made a ruling on a new state law that bans politicians from being lobbyists. Navarro was selected as vice chair this past November and has been a member of the school board since 2015. Navarro is a registered lobbyist for the South Broward Hospital District.

Wagar was the former mayor of Miami Shores. Miami Shores city manager confirmed Wagar’s resignation.

They resigned a day before the new law goes into effect.

Judge Beth Bloom was asked to temporarily suspend the state law that implements Amendment 12, which prohibits public officials from lobbying for money during their term in office and for six years after they leave office, but Bloom denied the request on Thursday.

In February, the state legislature approved the law that implements the amendment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it in May and it goes into effect on Dec. 31.

DeSantis will be appointing the Miami-Dade School Board’s new vice chair.

Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade, released a statement on Navarro’s resignation, mentioning the governor’s involvement in choosing a replacement.

“We trust that M-DCPS Board Vice Chair Lubby Navarro is doing what is best and wish her success in her future endeavors as a lobbyist. We hope that Gov. DeSantis will stop politicizing our classrooms and appoint someone to Mrs. Navarro’s position who is student-centered in their approach and invested in improving public education. Our community expects and deserves someone who is focused on strengthening our ‘A’ rated public school system, providing the best education for every child regardless of their race, gender, or zip code, and not the dismantling of public schools through artificial culture wars, and propaganda.”

Miami Shores council member Wagar was a plaintiff along with Rene Garcia, currently a Miami-Dade County Commissioner and former chair of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade as well as Javier Fernandez, a Democrat and currently the mayor of South Miami, who took the law to federal court saying that it restricted their political free speech rights.

The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that the state law signed by DeSantis in May is “...unjustifiably and unconstitutionally restrict Plaintiffs’ core political speech rights, associational rights and rights to petition the government in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution...”

In her resignation letter submitted on Dec. 29, Wagar said she represents “clients in front of government bodies, which requires (her to) register as a lobbyist.”

Please be advised that regrettably I must resign my position as a member of the Village of Miami Shores Council due to FL Statute 112.3122 effective immediately.

When I ran to serve my community, I did so by highlighting my more than two decades of public service and government experience in both the private and public sectors.  As part of my law practice, I do represent clients in front of government bodies which requires registering as a lobbyist and while I do believe FL Stat  112.3122 will be deemed unconstitutional, based on a ruling today by Judge Bloom, I cannot continue to serve out the remainder of my term, which is deeply regrettable.

It has been my honor to serve my community, serve with my esteemed colleagues and work with the incredible Miami Shores staff.

Very Truly Yours,

Crystal Wagar

Politicians across Florida now have until the end of the year to decide if they want to continue to hold public office or keep their lobbying jobs.

Another hearing will be held on the issue on Jan. 27 at 11 a.m.

(See Lubby Navarro’s resignation letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis)

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local