Meet Senator Farmer
Why did you want to become a state senator?
I was asked that question a lot during the campaign. The simple answer is: I want to give a voice to the people who don’t have one in Tallahassee. I want to look out for the little guy and little gal. You think about civics and how governance should work and start with an idealistic view, then you go up to Tallahassee and see the legislative process as it is today. Frankly, it is shocking and would distress a lot of people to see the power money and special interests hold up there. I’m not doing this for economic gain or to advance in my career. I want to make sure when the Legislature passes laws, it does not have a disparate impact on people in our state.
What aspects of your law practice at Farmer Jaffe played a role in your move into public service?
Our practice has showed many times over that David can indeed take on Goliath and prevail, which proves the judicial process is fair and just. As a lawyer, I represent all kinds of people. It is natural for me to take that perspective and experience from the courtroom and bring it to the legislative process.
What are your top priorities heading into the 2017 session?
Education will always be a big priority for me. I’ve seen first-hand the degradation of the public school system and the reduction of services and funding for the kids who need it. Environmental issues like rising sea levels, the impact of climate change on the community and water supply and protecting the Everglades are also main priorities. Additionally, I want to keep our courthouse doors open for everybody and make sure the insurance industry doesn’t overreach with respect to consumers.
What are the biggest issues affecting qui tam law these days?
We need to make sure we protect our qui tam laws. They protect all of our taxpayer funds from misuse and abuse. Some laws need to be clarified so they don’t have a chilling effect on qui tam cases. States shouldn’t be able to stop whistleblowers from coming forward and prosecuting a claim. Those are the main issues at the state level. Nationally, cases become harder to prosecute because of the number of cases backlogged. Plus, certain case law makes it too difficult in some circuits for a whistleblower to bring forward a case.
How has your dad’s distinguished legal career inspired you?
My father is truly one of the great legal scholars and writers the state has ever seen. He intellectually challenged me to keep up. If I can have half of the efficacy as an attorney as him, I will be very proud of my career. His drive and work ethic also stand out. This is a man who dropped out of high school and upon returning from his Marine service in Korea decided he wanted more for his family. So he went back to school and earned a GED and college degree. Then, while I was in first grade, he went to law school. That gave our family a work ethic and belief that anything truly is possible.
What firm charitable or community initiatives are you most excited about?
I am most proud of our firm’s continued charitable efforts and hope to take them to Tallahassee so we can further help those who need it. We just held our sixth annual Turkey Give Away, which keeps getting bigger and bigger, allowing us to feed more than 2,000 people in South Florida every Thanksgiving. We certainly want to expand our work with the Dan Marino Foundation and the Dan Marino Center he built here in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It has been a gift to get to know the students, teachers and administrators there, and it has been so rewarding to experience having kids with special abilities work in our firm. It inspires me every day to be able to show others what is possible.