Former GOP Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles was arrested on Thursday for allegedly violating election laws in last year’s state senate race.
Local station WSVN reports that Artiles is facing multiple charges including illegal campaign contributions.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has alleged that Artiles planted a shadow candidate in the Florida Senate District 37 election to defeat Democratic incumbent José Javier Rodriguez.
“What is a crime is making illegal campaign contributions to get a candidate to run,” Fernandez Rundle said.
When voters cast their ballots last November, Republican candidate Ileana Garcia, Democratic incumbent José Javier Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez were shown as candidates, WSVN reports. Investigators allege that Artiles put Alex Rodriguez in the race in the hopes that voters would be confused and thus votes would taken away from the Democratic candidate.
According to WSVN, the arrest warrant alleges that Artiles paid Alex Rodriguez $44,000 to run in the election. Artiles reportedly started his election plot in August when he first contacted Rodriguez on Facebook.
Artiles’s arrest comes one day after authorities raided his home and took several boxes of evidence.
William Barzee – attorney for Rodriguez, who was also arrested – appeared to admit to the plot, pinning the blame on Artiles and suggesting that the former state lawmaker had taken advantage of his client.
“Frank Artiles and his co-conspirators knew they couldn’t beat Jose Javier Rodriguez in a fair election, so they rigged it,” Barzee told WSVN. “Artiles cynically targeted and used a vulnerable ‘friend’ with a great name in order to confuse voters and steal the election. Alex Rodriguez deeply regrets allowing himself to be used in this way and hopes that by coming forth with the truth he can help to right these wrongs.”
Artiles resigned from the Florida state senate in 2017 after using the n-word in a conversation with Black colleagues. Artiles had been speaking about how Senate President Joe Negron was elected GOP leader, saying “six n——” had elected Negron. It is unclear who Artiles was referring to as there were no Black members of the Florida GOP caucus when Artiles made his remarks.
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