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Politics

Bondi Rips FDLE Over Elections Investigation

November 12, 2018 - 8:15am
Pam Bondi
Pam Bondi

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.

Comments

Voting Laws are already established. The SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS of each and every Florida county (by LAW) must turn in their results tomorrow (Wednesday). Please STOP haggling and trying to re-vote. The rule of law is clear on this. EVERYONE needs to BACK-OFF!

Ahhhhh . . . . your date is wrong . . . . . and there's still military and overseas votes to count, as well as whatever the courts say need to be counted (or not) . . . . . . .

Pam stop pointing the finger at others. It's you Pam and Rick Scott that are derilict in your duties. You or Rick can and should already have ordered the FDLE into action. Both of you are chickin shizz to do your jobs because Gillum's a minority. Disgusting deriliction of duty. Either order the FDLE into action or shut up.

Pam Bondi, Rick Scott, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Matt Gaetz, and other GOPers are showing their true "It's all about power for us" colors . . . . damn the people, demonize for personal power now . . . . . . and now Trump wants to stop all recounting and revert to election day results, which of course is illegal as it denies the military & oversea votes that by law still have time to be received and counted, not to mention existing state law on recounting . . . . . . . . wonder if there's such a thing as criminal obstruction of voting . . . . . . . perhaps we need a new criminal felony law that repays politicians' false claims of voter "fraud" (i.e. absent a court case demonstrating intentional criminal "fraud") with removal from office and loss of voting rights by the politician . . . . . . that might stop some of this foolishness . . . . . . . . . then we can move on to Trump's threats of withholding federal disaster aid to those impacted by natural disasters due to false, delusional claims of poor management (i.e. Trump --> "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”) . . . . . . will this same logic apply to Florida for allowing development within a coastal area subject to hurricane impacts??? . . . . . . . or the next time we experience wildfires in Florida . . . . . . . come on guys (and gal), stop showing your ignorance and partisan, delusional conspiracy theories ten times a day . . . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Good environmentalists have been saying for decades now that California has greatly neglected its forest management programs. It's not just Trump. How can you deny reality and try to shame someone when facts matter?

Have you ever lived in southern California, in urban landscapes where some of these fires are occurring? . . . . . . . . . and where the fires have little/nothing to do with the FOREST management type issues you desire to follow Trump's lead in (Paradise is perhaps another manner - although see comment at end) . . . . . . . and before you spout off, go read some southern California firefighters & local forest managers comments --> “These fires aren’t even in forests" as one wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara stated. . . . . . . . . or "It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California" as the president of the California Professional Firefighters stated in reference to Trump's claims . . . . . . . many of the risk factors in California have nothing to do with forest management issues . . . . . . . but much more with California's extraordinary drought made worst by climate change issues, presence of many hillsides, seasonal Santa Ana winds, etc . . . . . . . . . . . . . besides, if it's a forest management issue, the majority of California's forest are federally owned (~57%), so maybe we should just point the finger of blame at Trump, right . . . . . . especially since Trump has tried in the past to cut Forest Service funding, including eliminating the Joint Fire Science Program, a cooperative venture by the Forest Service and six Interior Department agencies . . . . . . . oh, and another relative factoid --> the wooded land that abuts Paradise, Calif., the community so badly damaged by the Camp Fire, underwent the kind of post-fire logging management that Mr. Trump and Mr. Zinke have suggested needs to be done, and that didn't stop the fire from happening . . . . . . . to ignore reality, science and facts is always, just . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC

Frank, it's a shame you think you are smarter than you are. Go study election LAW and the Florida CONSTITUTION before shooting off your uneducated cake hole

I think it highly likely I know quite a bit more about state and national laws and Constitutions than you do . . . . . . if that retort is the best you can do (i.e. without providing any demonstration of evidence/facts to back up your frivolous claims) . . . . . . then that's simply . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Just COUNT THE VOTES! The h*ll with the Republicans' "deadlines"! Whiners and crybabies!

We don' t count illegal votes, or those votes past the deadline, nor those filled out or altered by the cheating democrat black bag, head of the election counties? democrats CANNOT WIN unless they have cheated. Everytime.........but we are wise and have the Greatest American President Trump. Obama is, was, and will always be a criminal, who never achieved anything but spent 11 Trillion, and sell guns to Americans, and give free guns thru "Fast & Furious".

Your name says it all. How about thee CROOK who never should have been counting gets arrested for the PROVEN election FRAUD in 2016. Also theres a sworn affidavit from a vote counter that says poll workers were filling out blank ballots.

Duhhhhh . . . . that affidavit complaint was also for the 2016 election, not the 2018 election . . . . . . seen any criminal charges filed re that ballot stuffing complaint. . . . . thought not . . . . . . . . . . . and "fraud" is a very specific legal term . . . . . . don't believe that's ever been proven for the Broward 2016 votes . . . . . . . be precise, get your facts straight and don't spout things others say, without proof and verification . . . . . . . otherwise, that's just . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

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