ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The home of a former Republican state senator in Florida was raided Wednesday by law enforcement officials looking into his support of a bogus candidate in a legislative race.
Boxes of material were taken out of the Palmetto Bay home of Frank Artiles, who multiple media reports say has been implicated in a plot to plant a candidate in a Miami-area state Senate race to defeat the Democratic incumbent.
That race was won by Republican Ileana Garcia by just 32 votes over Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez in the 2020 election out of about 215,000 votes cast. The alleged sham candidate Alex Rodriguez — not the baseball player, but an auto parts dealer — ran as a non-party candidate and has the same last name as the Democrat.
Artiles had not been charged with any crime or wrongdoing as of Wednesday. Efforts to reach him via social media or a phone call were not successful.
It’s not clear when or if Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle will file any charges. The state attorney’s office declined comment Wednesday, but the case is ongoing.
According to the Miami Herald, Artiles bragged about installing Alex Rodriguez in the Senate race in several public settings. One of them, the newspaper reported, was at a restaurant in Lake Mary during an election night party for state Sen. Jason Brodeur.
“That is me, that was all me,” Artiles said of the South Florida Senate race.
The current Senate president, Wilton Simpson, declined comment on the matter Wednesday.
Artiles is no stranger to controversy.
In 2017, he resigned from the state Senate after using racial slurs in a conversation with two Black legislators in a Tallahassee bar. Then it was revealed Artiles used money from his political committee to hire a former Playboy model and Hooters girl as a consultant.
The former senator who was defeated, Jose Javier Rodriguez, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Artiles, a Cuban-American, served three terms in the state House from a Miami-Dade district and then was elected to the Senate before his resignation. Before that, he served in the Marine Corps.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.