Former state Sen. Frank Artiles, accused of breaking election law, bonds out

PALMETTO BAY, Fla. (WSVN) — Former Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles has bonded out of jail hours after he was arrested for allegedly violating election laws in a 2020 state senate race.

7News cameras captured Artiles as he walked out of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade, Thursday night.

“No comment about this case. The courts, it will be decided in the courts,” he said.

Artiles is facing several charges, including illegal campaign contributions.

“Thank you very much. Have a great day, guys,” he said as he got into the passenger side of a pickup truck.

Hours earlier, Samantha J. Gross with the Miami Herald posted a video on Twitter of Artiles and his attorney pulling into the jail.

Artiles’ arrest comes one day after law enforcement officials raided his Palmetto Bay home.

Boxes of evidence were taken from his home.

According to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Artiles planted a shadow candidate in November’s Florida Senate District 37 election in order to defeat the Democratic incumbent. While that is not against the law, she said, what he did to ensure the candidate was on the ballot was illegal.

“What is a crime is making illegal campaign contributions to get a candidate to run,” said Fernandez Rundle.

Voters in November saw three candidates on the ballot: Republican Ileana Garcia, Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez and no-party candidate Alex Rodriguez.

Jose Javier Rodriguez said Artiles hoped the unaffiliated candidate’s last name would confuse Democratic voters and take votes away from him.

“In addition to the same surname, there was a very well-orchestrated and funded last-minute campaign to persuade voters and, frankly, trick them,” he said.

According to the arrest report, the scheme started through a Facebook chat last August. The document further states Artiles paid Alex Rodriguez more than $44,000 to take part in the election plot.

After a three-day recount, Ileana Garcia won the race over Jose Javier Rodriguez by only 32 votes.

“There is no indication that Senator Ileana Garcia was involved in Artiles’ plotting,” said Fernandez Rundle.

Alex Rodriguez was also arrested. He bonded out of jail just before 4 p.m. on Thursday.

While Alex Rodriguez declined to comment on the case, in a statement to 7News, his attorney, William Barzee, wrote, “Frank Artiles and his co-conspirators knew they couldn’t beat Jose Javier Rodriguez in a fair election, so they rigged it. Artiles cynically targeted and used a vulnerable ‘friend’ with a great name in order to confuse voters and steal the election. Alex Rodriguez deeply regrets allowing himself to be used in this way and hopes that by coming forth with the truth he can help to right these wrongs.”

“Let there be no mistake about it: these charges today say the law applies to everyone,” said Fernandez Rundle.

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