Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh Suing PACs
Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh is suing political action committees and their anonymous supporters for running a "smear campaign" against him during the 2016 election.
The complaint names two PACs called Leadership For Florida Future and For a Better Orange County, as well as their anonymous financial backers. The libel suit says the PACs acted maliciously when they falsely accused Singh in mailers and television ads of changing his first name to hide a federal lawsuit, financial debt and a felony arrest, among other things. Singh's lawyers estimate the PACs, which were not registered properly, spent about $3.4 million in dark money to discredit the incumbent before he was re-elected.
The property appraiser and his lawyers wouldn't name any names, but it's no secret that Singh has earned the ire of local theme parks. The parks have sued Singh because they say he's appraised them higher than the office has in the past. In just two years, Disney's tax bill jumped from $84.5 million to $102.6 million while Universal's taxes went from $148.6 million to $297 million. But Singh says what's actually happening is these properties were assessed at a much lower rate before he took office. The property appraiser says it's a problem when all of Magic Kingdom is assessed lower than the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
While there are rumors surrounding Singh's possible run for Orange County mayor, the property appraiser says his complaint has nothing to do with that race. Singh maintains that his lawsuit is about righting a wrong and standing up for democracy.