Florida AG Joins Governor in Urging State Police to Probe Election Results
By Lawrence Mower
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi leaned on state police to open an investigation into Gov. Rick Scott's claims of voter fraud in his U.S. Senate race, even though police and elections officials say they have found no evidence of fraud.
In a sharply worded letter to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Bondi wrote that she was "deeply troubled" that he hadn't opened an investigation.
"Your duty to investigate this matter is clear," Bondi wrote. "I am directing you to take the necessary steps to promote public safety and to assure that our state will guarantee integrity in our election process."
Bondi, a Republican, is a close ally of Scott. FDLE has said that workers from the secretary of state's office who have been observing the election in Broward County have not reported any fraud.
Scott, whose U.S. Senate race against Sen. Bill Nelson hangs on the results, had asked FDLE to investigate "rampant fraud" there during a Thursday news conference. He provided no evidence of fraud and was making that request as a candidate, not as governor.
He's since gone on Fox News several times repeating the claims of fraud but providing no evidence of it.
Bondi on Sunday implied that the verbal request from Scott, rather than a written one, was enough for FDLE to open an investigation.
"Regardless of who the complainant is, I expect any responsible law enforcement agency, and certainly the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to evaluate the credibility of the source who made the verbal request, gather facts, and conduct an inquiry rather than simply citing the lack of a piece of paper," she wrote to Swearingen.
A request for comment from FDLE Sunday was not immediately returned.
Bondi also wrote to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, encouraging him to look for and report any fraud. She also instructed him to report any suspicion of fraud to the Office of Statewide Prosecution, which is under her jurisdiction.
"I realize that you are not a prosecutor nor an attorney," Bondi wrote. "I am formally requesting that you report any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to both the statewide prosecutor and state attorney."
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, has said that he has seen no evidence of fraud.
Scott on Sunday also made another push to get state police to intervene in the election.
His lawyers filed emergency motions requesting that FDLE agents and sheriff's deputies in Broward and Palm Beach counties "be required to impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots" when they weren't in use, according to his campaign.
(c)2018 Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)