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11 Dem. members of Florida Congress want federal investigation into shill candidates

Democratic members of Congress from Florida want federal investigation into shill candidates
Democratic members of Congress from Florida want federal investigation into shill candidates

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The investigation into planting shill candidates in state legislative races may be widening.

On Thursday, 11 Democratic members of Congress from Florida asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch a federal investigation into the shill candidates and their dark money.

If the request is granted, the investigation into the sham candidates could be turbo-charged and could uncover the source of the $500,000 spent on three sham candidates last fall.

Alex Rodriguez was a sham candidate in the District 37 State Senate race and recruited to run by disgraced former State Senator Frank Artiles.

(See the letter below)

Now, they’re both in trouble, charged with making false statements under oath and campaign finance violations.

Artiles allegedly paid Rodriguez more than $40,000.

United States Representative Frederica Wilson was one of the Florida House members who sent the letter to the attorney general.

“Frank Artiles should be ashamed of himself,” Wilson said. “There is so much dark money in politics these days and until we can do a thorough investigation and find out where this money is coming from and who is funding these activities, it will continue.”

The letter sent to Garland said: “A a cloud of corruption hangs over Florida’s 2020 election cycle. In at least three Florida senate races, sham candidates were planted by political operatives and funded by dark money groups in order to sway the electoral outcome.”

Wilson’s solution? Just follow the money.

“That’s what we have to do and we have to find the source of the money and punish everyone who was involved.”

Artiles and his shill candidate Rodriguez are to be arraigned in state court on April 16.


About the Author:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter.