From Florida comes yet another example of Republicans committing election fraud in order to win an election.
The recruitment of the sham candidate began with a Facebook message at around 4 a.m. on May 15, 2020. “Call me,” a Florida legislator turned lobbyist wrote to an old friend. “I have a question for you.”
Later that day, former state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, asked Alexis Pedro Rodriguez by phone whether he still owned a home in the suburban Miami village of Palmetto Bay. Because in that case, Artiles wanted something else: to put his friend’s property and last name to use in the upcoming election.
The incumbent Democrat, state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, was on the ballot. And Artiles, a crafty political operator with a dubious reputation, had a plan: to plant his friend as a candidate and siphon off votes that could defeat José Rodríguez.
The plan worked, setting off one of Florida’s most brazen electoral scandals in years — even by the heady standards of a state that has long been fertile ground for political scammers. What is still uncertain is how broad the scandal is, whether it had touched other races and whether it was part of an organized effort by Republicans or an interest group to sway legislative races.
Alexis Rodriguez, a machine-parts dealer who had been struggling financially, agreed to help Artiles, who promised him $50,000 in return. He switched from Republican to no party affiliation and qualified for the ballot as Alex Rodriguez. He did not disclose that he actually lived far from the district, in Boca Raton, or that the money for his candidacy came from Artiles.
It’s worth noting that for all their talk about how Democrats win rigged elections using vote fraud, Republicans haven’t ever really proven any large-scale instances of vote fraud. However, there are numerous examples of Republicans committing both election fraud and voter fraud.
I suppose none of us should be surprised at the lengths Republicans and their true believers will go to in order to swing the results of elections, given how completely ineffective Republicans have been when given a chance to govern. After all, the biggest legislative achievement of Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s decades-long career in public office probably has to be the decade or so he has spent stonewalling any attempts by Democrats to pass legislation and actually do the jobs they were elected to do.