On Wednesday, a Miami-Dade County home owned by former Florida state Senator Frank Artiles, a Republican, was raided by local authorities as part of an investigation into the presence of a formally unaffiliated candidate in a local state Senate race. That unaffiliated candidate, Alex Rodriguez, has the same last name as the incumbent Democrat who lost the state Senate race, and that incumbent Democrat, José Javier Rodríguez, lost by a thin margin that was covered many times over by the number of votes that Alex Rodriguez received. The incumbent lost by 32 votes, while Alex Rodriguez — who did no independent campaigning — received more than 6,000 votes.
As for Artiles, the public corruption task force for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office handled the search warrant that authorities executed at his Miami-area home on Wednesday — and the following day, he was placed under arrest. He seemingly turned himself in. Check out video of the raid, showing removal of evidence, below:
Evidence coming out in boxes from Frank Artiles ‘s house… The warrant includes computer(s), his cell phone, a safe inside the house….They are looking for evidence of communications & financing of plant candidate Alex Rodriguez.@WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/l394J5nzvu
— Glenna Milberg (@GlennaWPLG) March 17, 2021
Late last year, the Miami Herald reported that Artiles “recruited” Alex Rodriguez for the Miami-area state Senate race, as summarized by the Tampa Bay Times. Alex Rodriguez had never run for office prior to his quiet participation in the Miami race, and he’d been a registered Republican before switching to no party affiliation for the race.
Authorities in Miami have raided the home of former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles.
Artiles was behind the recruitment of a non-viable third party candidate in a key state Senate race who was recruited to siphon votes away from incumbent Democrat. https://t.co/TAFfeRcJSh
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 18, 2021
Issues surrounding Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy go on from there. Rodriguez “listed a Palmetto Bay house as his address on his sworn candidate oath, though he lived in a rented house in Boca Raton,” the Times explains, and he also “appeared to be struggling financially,” which raises questions about how he was able to afford the money required to run for office. According to campaign filings, Rodriguez never received campaign contributions and had no money in the bank — but somehow, he was able to pay the $1,187.88 qualifying fee required to appear on the ballot. He paid the fee with a City National Bank check, but his financial disclosure forms don’t reveal any accounts at the bank in his name!
BREAKING NEWS: Police raid home of former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who on election night bragged about planting no-party candidate in key Miami-Dade Senate race
— Ana Ceballos (@anaceballos_) March 17, 2021
As Juan Carlos Planas explains it, “At the heart of this is the misrepresentation of funds and the possibility of Alex Rodriguez being paid to run.” Although it’s unclear whether Artiles was the source of the money that Rodriguez used for his candidacy, questions remain, and the local state attorney’s office is clearly interested in answers. Personally, Artiles already has a scandal-filled history — he resigned from the state Senate in 2017 after calling two Black legislators a racist slur and hiring a Playboy model with no political background as a “consultant.”
UPDATE: According to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Artiles paid Alex Rodriguez almost $45,000 in support of his sham candidacy. Artiles is now facing charges including “making or receiving two or more campaign contributions over or in excess of the limits; conspiracy to make or receive two or more campaign contributions over or in excess of the limits and false swearing in connection with voting or elections,” according to CNN.
BREAKING: Ex-Florida Sen. Frank Artiles is being arrested in shill candidate scheme https://t.co/Z1eGIOHSNC
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) March 18, 2021