Democrats Call for DOJ to Investigate Florida Senate Races

The Miami Herald reported today that Florida Democrats are calling for the Department of Justice to investigate state Senate races.

11 of Florida’s Democratic U.S. House members sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland saying that  “a cloud of corruption hangs over Florida’s 2020 election cycle, which thus far, has received only a limited formal investigation.”

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Their letter comes after former Republican state Senator Frank Artiles was arrested and charged with several felonies––making or receiving two or more excessive campaign contributions, conspiracy to make or receive two or more excessive campaign contributions, and false swearing regarding voting or elections––in relation to his decision to recruit Alexis “Alexis” Rodríguez, who did not declare a party affiliation, by offering her $50,000 to run in the race.

The scheme worked: Rodriguez was able to siphon votes from incumbent Democrat José Javier Rodríguez, who lost his state Senate seat to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia by just 32 votes in November.

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“It is clear that the ultimate goal of the scheme outlined in legal records by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office could not have been accomplished without the coordinated support of two state-level political committees, The Truth and Our Florida, which were set up for the express purpose of raising the name identification of these ghost candidates, and to confuse voters with messaging that mirrored the Democratic campaigns,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. 

They argue that candidates that did not actively campaign for office were supported by an entity called Proclivity, whose $550,000 in untraceable contributions were accepted by two political committees.

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“Based on the suspicious practices outlined in this letter, including the likelihood of several potential illegal interstate transfers of funds, we strongly believe that much greater scrutiny of this matter at the federal level is warranted,” the letter continues. “It is also a pressing public concern as to whether any fraud occurred in furtherance of a federal criminal conspiracy designed to influence the outcome of one or more elections.”

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