PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Florida Democratic leaders are calling for Republican State Senator Ileana Garcia to step down or to voluntarily resign and for a new election to be held.
This comes in the wake of former state senator Frank Artiles being charged with election fraud Thursday, accused of masterminding and funding a sham candidate to manipulate voters last November.
It is believed that Garcia was not aware of the scheme.
State Democratic Chair Manny Diaz said during a meeting on Friday: : “In the interest of fairness and the sanctity of our democratic electoral process, we call on Senator Garcia to resign immediately and that a fair, special election be held as soon as possible.”
The Democratic state senator from Broward, Gary Farmer agreed with a redo of the election.
“What are our Republican colleagues going to do now? Faced with proof of fraud that clearly impacted the outcome of an election decided by 32 votes. You have to ask yourself, Florida: Do Republicans really want to deal with fraud in elections? Are they really serious about making sure that these types of things don’t occur? The best way to make sure this doesn’t occur is to redo the election.”
Artiles, a Republican, is facing charges of felony campaign finance crimes.
The disgraced former lawmaker is accused of recruiting and paying a friend to run as a sham candidate in a key state senate race – Senate District 37. The fake candidate, Alex Rodriguez, has the same surname as the Democratic incumbent in the district, Jose Javier Rodriguez. He lost the election by 32 votes to Republican Ileana Garcia.
The State Attorney says there is no evidence that Garcia was aware of the faux candidate. Local 10 News reached out to her to get a comment, but haven’t heard back.
It is unlikely that Garcia would voluntarily resign her seat and there is no provision in state law that says she must step down.