Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has entered the fray in the latest election controversy to rock South Florida.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Bondi has chastised Florida officials concerning what she refers to as "irregularities" in Broward and Palm Beach Counties during the 2018 midterm elections.
On Sunday the Attorney General's Office shared letters sent by Bondi to Ken Detzner, the Secretary of State of Florida, as well as Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
In her letters, Bondi implores both men to pursue alleged misconduct surrounding voting in the two populous South Florida counties.
Read Bondi's letter to Detzner: falcon-embed src="embed_1"
"As part of your statutory duty as secretary of state, I know you and your staff are continuing to investigate the recent events occurring in Broward and Palm Beach Counties regarding the 2018 election," Bondi wrote to Detzner. "In doing so, when you find any indication creating a reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity, please report it to law enforcement agencies including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."
Bondi requests that Detzner "report any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to both the statewide prosecutor and state attorney."
The attorney general reserved far harsher language for Swearingen. On Friday it was reported that the FDLE had not opened an investigation on voter fraud as Scott had not submitted a request for such an inquiry in writing and "no allegation of voter fraud in Broward has been sent to the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections" according to the Miami Herald.
In her letter to Swearingen, Bondi said she was "deeply troubled" by the lack of an investigation.
"As law enforcement officials, regardless of political affiliation, it is our job to investigate facts and circumstances giving rise to reasonable suspicion in order to determine whether criminal conduct has occurred," she wrote. "In the case of the 2018 election ... election officials in Broward and Palm Beach Counties have been found by courts and have admitted in their own public statements, that irregularities occurred and required procedures were violated."
Read Bondi's letter to Swearingen: falcon-embed src="embed_2"
"It appears your unwillingness to investigate is based on your claim that the Florida Department of State has not, as of yet, identified criminal allegations of fraud," Bondi continued. Asserting that Swearingen's "duty is not limited to investigating allegations made by the secretary of state" lists reports that supervisors of elections offices were "willfully and illegally counting ballots that were rejected by the canvassing board" as well as "supervisor of election staff and employees refusing to supply vote by mail ballots when requested" as enough grounds for an investigation to be opened.
"It is troubling your agency stated that a complaint by a candidate, government official or elections officer was not put in writing and therefore the failure to reduce a request to writing is a legitimate reason for refusing to investigate," she added. "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 our democracy."
Requests for comment from the FDLE and and Florida Department of State were not answered by press time. The Attorney General's Office also did not respond to requests for comment.
On Friday Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips and Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Krista Marx both entered favorable rulings to Scott's senate campaign in lawsuits against Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes in addition to Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections for West Palm Beach.
On Sunday the campaign filed three additional suits against the election supervisors.
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