In November, reports came out of super duper shady stuff going on in Florida with newly formed political action committees and large quantities of money, Republican operatives, and support for shadowy third-party candidates in tight races. On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Artiles’ Palmetto Bay house was raided by authorities in connection with a state investigation into these election fraud activities that likely had a real effect on Florida elections. Artiles was connected with the 37th District race back in December when a report came out in the Miami Herald saying Artiles boasted about helping to fix the results in that election on election night. This came alongside reports that the third-party candidate had put a false address on his registration and had been in financial straits for some time.
Some of the more glaring flags in this case included reports of a “mysterious” company called Proclivity, Inc., which had donated a total of $550,000 to two separate Florida political action committees just one month before Election Day. Proclivity was registered in Delaware in 2019 by a man named “Richard Alexander” who no one was able to locate; a paper trail seemed to only lead to a mailbox in an Atlanta strip mall UPS store.
The Florida PACs in question also received this payload just one day after both PACs were registered on Oct. 2, 2020. “Our Florida PC” and “The Truth PC” received $370,000 and $180,000 respectively. The two PACs, supposedly run by two very young women no one had ever heard of before, also seemed to throw this money for advertising support into three mysterious third-party candidates with similar Democratic platforms in three different local races. The only connection the two women who ran the PACs seemed to have had with politics was through a young Republican political strategist named Alex Alvarado.
Alex Rodriguez’s loss was Ileana Garcia’s win. Reporters fanned out searching for Alex Rodriguez and other candidates and were on the receiving end of some strange behavior from candidates like Rodriguez, who at first said he wasn’t who he was before later admitting he was indeed the guy who ran for office. Other third-party candidates with connections to these PACs had similarly dubious responses to reporters’ questions. Some, like Rodriguez, had worrisome legal histories like pleading guilty to two counts of “felony grand theft” back in 2012.
Artiles’ name came into the conversation a month later after the Herald did a report about the former state senator. According to sources, Artiles had “outlined the early stages of his so-called ‘siphoning strategy’ in the summer of 2018 with a friend.”
Artiles resigned in disgrace after a “alcohol-fueled tirade against Sen. Audrey Gibson” revealed how much of a misogynistic, racist dirtbag he is. That came on top of an investigation into his campaign’s very questionable use of funds to hire a Playboy magazine model and a Hooters “calendar girl” as campaign “consultants.” To put his entire political career into stark focus, Artiles’ big thing was railing against transgender bathrooms. The Herald says that Artiles is now a lobbyist in the Sunshine State. Hopefully, Artiles will receive the full investigation, trial, and justice he seems to so clearly deserve.
Jose Javier Rodriguez’s election attorney Juan Carlos Planas told reporters: “In our investigation, we realize Alex Rodriguez was someone who owed money to many people in town.“ But sadly, Planas explained, there isn’t enough recourse here to overturn an election. “At the end of the day, Jose Javier Rodriguez lost the election, but the victims here are the voters in the district who were not made fully aware as to who was financing a third-party candidate.”
Since the fraudulent votes can’t just be given over to one candidate or the other, it doesn’t change the results of how many votes Garcia received versus how many Jose Javier Rodriguez received. The only way this could be fixed would be for the district to hold another vote—something that’s unlikely to happen. Instead, more campaign finance controls and some kind of meaningful oversight on this kind of activity before elections must take place.