Woman Behind Anti-Squatting Bill Slams DeSantis

Woman Behind Anti-Squatting Bill Slams DeSantis

The woman whose story inspired Florida's anti-squatting bill slammed DeSantis, wondering if he didn't invite her to speak at the bill-signing because she is a Democrat

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
March 28, 2024

ORLANDO, FL—The Jacksonville resident who brought Florida's attention to the squatter epidemic slams Governor DeSantis after he didn't invite her to the bill signing, wondering if she was excluded because she's a Democrat.

Patti Peeples had to wait 20 days for two squatters to be evicted from her home, and when they were, they left behind $40,000 worth of damages.

The national coverage espoused from Peeples' nightmare sparked Republican Rep. Kevin Steele's interest, leading him to work with Peeples and Republican Sen. Keith Perry to pass a bill preventing squatters' rights in other people's homes.

Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis signed the bill into law. He invited speakers like California's "Squatter Hunter" Flash Shelton, who "out-squats the squatters" until they leave. Peeples, who brought attention to Florida's squatting crisis, was not invited to speak.

"I can only assume that it relates to my being a Democrat," Patti Peeples told The Floridian. "He might have felt like my views that the squatter epidemic is not an undocumented immigrant or unhoused person issue doesn't feed into his mantra."

Peeples referenced a viral story of an illegal Venezuelan immigrant who encouraged other migrants via TikTok to "seize" American homes.

Peeples condemned DeSantis "picking a fight" with blue states like New York and California over their own issues with squatting, calling the Governor out for "not focusing on the extraordinary bipartisan passage" of the bill and "ignoring" that it was inspired by "a citizen of his own state."

"I think that this doesn't fit into DeSantis' quest eventually for the presidency," she said, claiming that platforming her views wouldn't have benefitted what she believed to be the Governor's political goals. "I think it's shameful, I think it's small-minded, I think it's short-sighted, and I think that it denigrates the bipartisan nature of this bill that we got passed."

"Squatter Hunter" Flash Shelton, however, doesn't believe Peeples' exclusion was at all politically motivated.

"The Governor's office never asked where I was politically. They have no idea where I stand," he told The Floridian, explaining his belief that being politically anonymous helps his anti-squatting message reach both ends of the political spectrum.

"I just believe that's just her getting attention and unfortunately she's feeling slighted, and the only reason she can come up with in her head is that it must be a political thing," he added.

Peeples maintained that her discontent with DeSantis was not for personal publicity, but for publicity on "raising the issue—I'm not making any money off of this."

She similarly honed in on DeSantis' decision to host Shelton and not her, asking, "Why else would he have completely cut me out of everything? Why in the world would he have flown someone in from across the country, whose practices may lead to violence, when we have a bill that passed that prevents violence?"

Shelton called her comments "uncalled for", stating that none of his squatter confrontations have ever led to violence.

Jayden Cocuzza, a legislative aide for Rep. Kevin Steele, told us Steele has "no say in who speaks at those bill-signing events, that's entirely up to the Governor's office."

The Governor's office had not returned a request for comment at the time of publishing.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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