Ex-Sen. Frank Artiles’ home raided in shill candidate investigation

Prosecutors seek evidence he paid for a plant to shake up November election

Prosecutors seized evidence they believe will show that Frank Artiles paid for a shill candidate to shake up a state senate race in the November election.

PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – A search warrant was executed Wednesday morning at the home of former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles as part of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office’s investigation into whether he illegally funded a planted candidate in the November election.

Sources say the warrant involves the search of his electronics, including his cell phone and computer, and the contents of a safe in Artiles’ Palmetto Bay house.

Investigators are looking for evidence of Artiles’ possible communication with Alex Rodriguez, a shill candidate in the District 37 Florida Senate race, and whether there is proof Artiles illegally paid for and paid off the sham candidate.

News of the raid, first reported by Local 10 News, dropped as a bombshell in Tallahassee.

Rodriguez, a third-party candidate in that race, has the same last name as the Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez, who narrowly lost to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia.

A Local 10 News investigation shortly after the election found that Alex Rodriguez, a deep-in-debt machinery rep in Boca Raton, falsified his address on his campaign filing form, and that he didn’t fundraise or campaign for the position he was on the ballot for. He also lied to Local 10 News in November when we asked him to explain his curious no-show, no-party campaign and suspicious campaign finance records.

Masterminding a sham candidate is not illegal, but financing one is.

Prosecutors have been working the case for months, following the money and communications between Artiles and Alex Rodriguez.

They may have been done in by their digital footprints. Rodriguez was keeping his apparent handler Artiles informed of his progress as a candidate.

And sudden changes to his campaign donor list trace back to Artiles’ home IP address.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if former state Sen. Frank Artiles illegally planted and funded a sham candidate in the November election.

Artiles, now a lobbyist, resigned his state Senate seat in 2017 after using a racial slur among colleagues and amid reports that a former Hooters calendar girl and a Playboy model with no political experience were hired as “consultants.”

The raid at Artiles’ home wrapped up before noon, and the former state senator was spotted inside the house with his attorney.

Neither had a comment Wednesday.

Garcia won the District 37 race by just 32 votes over Jose Javier Rodriguez. Shill candidate Alex Rodriguez got over 6,000 votes.

There is no evidence that suggests Garcia was involved or had any knowledge of the shill being planted in the race.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."