Rep. Steinberg resigns Miami Beach seat over texting scandal
Under Secret Service investigation for sending stalker-like texts to a federal prosecutor, Democratic state Rep. Richard Steinberg on Friday abruptly resigned his Miami Beach seat.
“The events of the past week have been difficult formy family, for me and for everyone involved,” Steinberg, 39, said in a written statement. “After much consultation my family, my friends and my colleagues in the Democratic caucus — and after some time for quiet, personal reflection — I have decided to resign, effective today, from my position as a member of Florida’s house of representatives. “
Steinberg’s resignation came just as the republican party of Florida was planning to call for his ouster. “He should have the decency to resign from office,” RPOF spokesman Brian Hughes said at the same time Steinberg was drafting his written statement.
The decision was a relief for his fellow House Democrats, who already command less than a third of their chamber and could ill-afford such a high-profile distraction.
Throughout the summer, Steinberg used a disguised Yahoo! account with the screen name “its just me 24680” to send text mes with sages to Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Fernandez-karavetsos.
Over months, Fernandez-karavetsos told investigators, the texter sent suggestive messages, calling her “sexxxy mama” and asking about her infant son.
Fernandez-karavetsos, who knew Steinberg through professional services, repeatedly asked the person to stop and identify himself.
“Considering we’re both married parents, probably best I not answer that at this point,” the texter, Steinberg, wrote back.
Fernandez-karavetsos, 37, is married to George Karavetsos, also a federal prosecutor and chief of the Miami U.S. attorney’s narcotics section. Steinberg, 39, married his wife, Mickyross Steinberg, in 2008. They have one child.
Finally, she complained to the u.s. Secret Service, which traced the anonymous messages back to Steinberg’s home and phone. Secret Service is only investigating the case because it involves a federal prosecutor. If any charges are brought, they would be filed in state court.
Steinberg is a former Miami Beach commissioner whose father, Paul Steinberg, was a state senator from 1972 to 1982. Steinberg was elected to the Legislature in 2007.
In 2001, at the age of 28, Steinberg became the second-youngest to be elected to the Miami Beach commission. He later became the city’s youngest vice mayor.
A review of voting records since Steinberg’s 2009 freshman session in Tallahassee shows that he cast at least five votes to increase penalties on stalkers and sexual predators who use texting or electronic media during their crimes.
Last week, Steinberg cast a committee vote for Hb 1099-stalking, which expands the definition of ‘aggravated stalking’ to include threats (and implied threats) made via electronic messages (e.g., texts, emails).
The bill also expands the definition of “threat” to include any activity that “places another person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or safety of his or her family members.”