New details have been released in the investigation of former Florida State Sen Frank Artiles (R) over his involvement in running "scam" campaigns in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election.
With his trial expected to begin August 30, prosecutors are firming up their case against the former GOP lawmaker in a political corruption case the Tampa Bay Times reports, "has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm in Gainesville, a top not-for-profit Miami hospital network and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization."
According to the Miami Herald, new revelations show that Florida political operative Alex Alvarado -- linked to Artiles -- was funneling money to sham campaign officials in an effort to disrupt key 2020 state Senate elections.
The report notes that "documents released late Friday, provide new details into the breadth of the criminal investigation into Artiles and his longtime acquaintance, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez."
"Prosecutors say Rodriguez was recruited by Artiles and paid some $44,000 to change his party affiliation from Republican to no party to qualify on the ballot and attempt to sway the outcome of the Miami-Dade Senate District 37 election. GOP candidate Illeana Garcia won the race by 32 votes. Rodriguez, who shared the same surname as the Democratic incumbent, received more than 6,000 votes," the Herald reports. "Between June 15 and November 15, 2020, Artiles was under contract to work for veteran Republican political operative Pat Bainter for $15,000 a month, court documents show. Bainter paid Artiles $90,000 and reimbursed him for his travel, a courier service and $4,000 for 'research,' according to those documents."
As part of the scam, one woman who was pregnant and desperate for money agreed to take $1,500 to chair a political committee with no plans to have her do any work.
In testimony 25-year-old Hailey DeFilippis, explained to investigators she was listed as the chair of "The Truth, a dark-money-funded political committee that spent $180,000 on political mail advertisements promoting sham candidates in key 2020 state Senate elections — two in Miami-Dade and one in Central Florida."
She was later paid $2,500 more for the "inconvenience" after reporters called up asking about the group.
"Artiles signed a contract with Bainter on June 9, 2020. The next day, Rodriguez met Artiles at Artiles' Palmetto Bay residence to fill out campaign forms, according to investigators who noted in an arrest affidavit that Rodriguez had 'no prior knowledge as to what forms needed to be completed to qualify as a candidate for elected office and relied on Artiles' instructions.,'" the report adds. "Neither Bainter nor Gardner have responded to phone calls or emails seeking comment since the Herald learned they were served subpoenas. The powerful GOP-linked research firm, based in Gainesville, also served as a general consultant for Republican Senate campaigns during the 2020 election cycle."
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