MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A search was conducted Wednesday morning at the Palmetto Bay home of former state Senator Frank Artiles.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports a warrant for the search was issued as part of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office investigation in Artiles possible involvement in funding a third-party candidate who likely swayed a key state race in the November elections.
The race in question was for the District 37 state Senate seat. Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez lost to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia in a race so close it was subject to a recount.
Rodriguez had held the State Senate seat since 2016.
Artiles has been under investigation for several months regarding his possible involvement in planting a straw candidate - Alex Rodriguez - into the race.
Artiles reportedly bragged about recruiting Rodriguez, who shares the same last name as the former incumbent Democrat, according to the Miami Herald. The move was designed to confuse voters and siphon votes away from Jose Javier Rodriguez for the benefit of Garcia.
Alex Rodriguez received more than 6,000 votes.
"At the end of the day, Jose Javier Rodriguez lost in election, but the victims here are the voters in the district who were not made fully aware as to who was financing a third-party candidate," said election attorney Juan Carlos Planas.
Planas represented Jose Javier Rodriguez in his recount of the November 2020 election.
Planas believe Alex Rodriguez was a straw candidate.
"In our investigation, we realize Alex Rodriguez was someone who owed money to many people in town," Planas said. "And then when you looked at the fact that Alex Rodriguez didn't really have a campaign. IT was a political committee that basically did the ads for him again Jose Javier Rodriguez."
Investigators are looking into who helped finance Alex Rodriguez's campaign and whether they violated campaign finance laws.
Alex Rodriguez, who registered as a Republican days before he filed to run, had never been a political candidate before, according to the Miami Herald.
CBSMiami has learned that Alex Rodriguez has been cooperating with the state attorney's office for months as part of their investigation of Artiles.
Attorney Greg Chonillo, who represent Artiles, released the following statement:
"Since the inception of this investigation, Mr. Artiles has cooperated fully with the State Attorney's Office. Today, my client fully cooperated with the execution of a search warrant by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. We fully intend on defending these charges in court."
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