By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — In an unusual move, Attorney General Pam Bondi on Sunday publicly criticized Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen for not pursuing an investigation into alleged irregularities in the handling of election ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Bondi’s office released a two-page letter rooted, at least in part, in Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial statement Thursday night that he was asking the FDLE to investigate irregularities. Scott is locked in a fierce election battle to try to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, while also teaming with Bondi and other members of the state Cabinet to oversee the FDLE.
An FDLE spokeswoman said Friday that the agency was working with the Florida Department of State “and will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud. We do not have an active investigation at this point.”
Bondi wrote in her letter Sunday to Swearingen that she was “deeply troubled” and that his “duty is not limited to investigating allegations made by the secretary of state.” She also said FDLE had pointed to a lack of a written complaint in deciding not to pursue an investigation.
“I fail to see how the Florida Department of Law Enforcement can legitimately refuse to investigate where there is reasonable suspicion that may lead to the discovery of criminal actions in the conduct of the 2018 election — actions that gravely damage Floridians’ confidence in our electoral process and democracy,” Bondi’s letter said.
An FDLE spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email Sunday seeking comment.
Scott drew criticism from Democrats after he said he was asking FDLE to investigate the actions of Broward and Palm Beach officials in an election that will determine his political future. Marc Elias, an attorney for Nelson, said Florida is “not a Third World dictatorship.”
Bondi’s letter Sunday came a day after Secretary of State Ken Detzner formally ordered statewide recounts in the races for U.S. senator, governor and agriculture commissioner. The margins in each of the races tightened by tens of thousands of votes as elections officials continued counting ballots after Tuesday night’s initial results.
Republicans, led by Scott’s campaign, have filed a series of lawsuits and argued that election fraud has occurred in Democrat-heavy Broward and Palm Beach counties. Democrats, meanwhile, have contended that Republicans are trying to prevent every vote from being counted and say allegations of fraud are baseless.
Bondi also sent a letter Sunday to Detzner requesting that he report any “suspicion of criminal activity” to FDLE, the statewide prosecutor and a state attorney. The statewide prosecutor works for Bondi.
Meanwhile, Scott’s campaign filed lawsuits in Broward and Palm Beach counties seeking orders for the county sheriff’s offices and the FDLE to impound voting machines, tallying devices and ballots when they are not being used.
Scott led Nelson by fewer than 14,000 votes in unofficial results Saturday, out of nearly 8.2 million votes cast. Counties face a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for reporting the results of “machine” recounts to the state. At that point, races with margins of .25 percent or less will go to manual, or “hand,” recounts.
Sarah Revell, a Detzner spokeswoman, said Sunday that Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has indicated her county might not be able to meet the Thursday machine-recount deadline because of the age of the county’s equipment.
“The deadlines for submitting the results of the recount are laid out in Florida law and the law does not give the secretary of state any authority to grant extensions,” Revell said in an email. “Florida law clearly states that if a county does not submit their results by the deadline then the results on file at that time take their place.”
— News Service senior writer Dara Kam contributed to this report.
Currently, there appears to be no consequence what so ever for ignoring election laws.
Reminds me of the reports out of Duval County Texas. A local election official found an uncounted box of ballots. Seems every registered Latino voter had voted, in alphabetical order, for a certain politician who years later advanced from VPOTUS to POTUS.
Some believe it is fiction.
Some believe it as fact.
Truth is it is probably exaggerated truth given the history of both the election official and the politician.
Carol, with all due respect, what you’re saying is in direct conflict with reality and utter nonsense.
Gov. Scott does not have “employees” – these are independent officials and independent workers for the State, free to make decisions on their own – so stop playing that tired fake news mantra.
Several FL laws very clearly and balatantly have been broken – I’ve enumerated these several times on this site but will do so again if necessary (doubt it will make any difference to you). A judge in South Florida has already ruled “the Florida constitution has been violated” and ordered Snipes and Bucher to comply with the law (I’d call violating the FL constitution “criminal activity”).
Snipes has deliberately mixed invalid votes with ones that will be allowed to be counted if determined authentic. Nelson’s lawyers tried to have an illegal’s vote counted as valid. FL reporting deadlines that are legally required have been ignored by Broward and Palm Beach county. “Found” ballots are turning up in back rooms after the required reporting times have passed. Rental trucks are bringing in boxes of “found” ballots from who knows where. None of this is debatable, all of this has happened – all of it is illegal and thus by definition “criminal activity”.
Yet you state that all is legal and the laws have been followed – these “officials” you mention with the Division of Elections, who exactly are they and provide your documentation – whoever they are, they are either dishonest or incompetent or complicit Dem-Socialists. As the saying goes “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”
Anyone (including you) who maintains “there is no election fraud or criminal activity in Broward and Palm Beach” is either being deliberately dishonest or deliberately ignorant – or both.
There have been officials from the Division of Elections observing the election in Broward County since day one. They say there is no criminal activity going on. And remember the Secretary of State works for and reports directly to Rick Scott. In essence these are his employees. This is all much ado about nothing. As for the woman who moved to Minnesota. It’s her responsibility to notify the SOE that she has moved out of state so she isn’t illegally registered to vote in two locations at the same time. Hope she didn’t register in Minnesota while she’s still registered in Florida.
Thank you Pam Bondi you are correct on this.
While I’d think Bondi would be more focused on being selected to replace Sessions as AG, she is right to fight back on the “monkeying around” with our election by The Usual Suspects.
65 of 67 counties got it right, including all those recently devastated by a Cat 4 hurricane. The SoFla Scofflaws need to be held accountable.
And why was Rep. Matt Gartz removed by riot police from the Broward elections office for recording video of boxes being moved in/out of trucks in the dark? They told him it was “unsafe.” What BS.
I wonder if a “boiler room” was set up with people filling in ballots en masse? Because the fresh ballots showing up are skewed towards the Socialists, in greater percentage than the general election ballots
That’s very suspicious.
And here’s a story on a Minnesotan who got a ballot from Broward County. She moved from there 5 years ago!
Anyone hear if Gillum’s brother and sister, both non-Floridians, voted for him? Or his felonious brother in Jacksonville?
News Maven, I think there’s a 99% probability that you’re correct on the “boiler room” full of complicit Dem-Socialist election workers feverishly filling out fake ballots, while at the same time “new” boxes of ballots are being “found” in back rooms, trucked in at night by DS operatives, etc. Basically, the usual DS voter fraud strategies – they’re not even trying very hard to hide it. Abrams is attempting the same tactics in GA, but that’s going nowhere so far – good!
It’s plain common sense: If there’s “no evidence of voter fraud” as that outhouse lawyer Elias claims, then why have several FL election laws been so blatantly been broken, and more continue to be as the hours tick by? Their false-justice bleating that “every vote must be counted” is absolute garbage, since every vote “found” after the reporting deadlines is suspect and should be thrown out. In the United States, we (meaning “we who abide by the law”) DON’T COUNT votes that are fake and-or illegal – or were filled out by election workers without the required legal witnesses present.
Good for you Ms. Bondi – time to kick some behinds and get heavier law investigation down there in the South FL banana republic. Stay on it.
Scott is absolutely justified in taking this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, and snipes and bucher should both serve heavy jail terms, along with all complicit election workers and operatives in Broward and Palm Beach county.
A fair way to handle this mess would be to only consider local candidates in the 2 counties that cannot seem to competently handle their duties. All results from State wide or US Candidates should be eliminated and not considered in the final tally. This would accomplish 2 things 1- the idiots that elected theses two clowns as as their suppervisor of elections should have to live with local results and 2- The rest of Florida and the US should not be penalized by counties electing idiots in office. Furthermore I would like to see states go to an electoral college like the presidential election for electing state wide and federal candidates. I dont like the fact that these two counties carry more voting power than any other 2 counties in Florida especially since they have a history of electing idiots to manage elections.