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Absentee-ballot race roils Miami-Dade state attorney contest

The Miami-Dade mayoral race is not the only contest on the Aug. 14 ballot embroiled in an investigation over potential absentee-ballot fraud.

Rod Vereen, the criminal defense attorney challenging longtime State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle in the Democratic primary, called on Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday to appoint a special prosecutor from outside the county to handle the investigation.

Vereen and other critics have suggested Fernández Rundle has a conflict of interest in the case because she shares a campaign consultant, Al Lorenzo, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez. One of the women detained and questioned in the fraud case -- Daisy Cabrera, found with more than a dozen absentee ballots -- has been photographed at Gimenez campaign events, and a private eye spotted her entering the building that houses Gimenez's Hialeah campaign office. Gimenez has strongly denied any connection to Cabrera.

For her part, Fernández Rundle's office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying reports linking the investigation to Lorenzo, the campaign consultant, "appear to be based solely on unsubstantiated rumor."

"I have spoken with the Major in charge of the Public Corruption Bureau of the Miami-Dade Police Department and he has confirmed that there is no truth to the rumor whatsoever," her statement says. "Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, I have spoken to the Governor's General Counsel's Office and informed them that, should the investigation uncover any actions that involve persons assisting in my campaign, I will do as always and immediately request an Executive Assignment of that piece of the investigation."

Says Vereen's letter to the governor: "The citizens of Miami Dade are beginning to question the sanctity of the August Primary Election. Our community does not want Katherine Fernández Rundle investigating potential election crims that her own political consultants may have participated in two weeks before a 'hotly contested' race for her own office and/or that she may potentially benefit from."

Gimenez said at a candidate forum Tuesday that he agrees with law enforcement's strategy to seek charges stronger than a misdemeanor against Cabrera to set an example for other absentee-ballot brokers.

Gimenez's chief rival, County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, said at the forum that state lawmakers should consider exempting lists of absentee-ballot requests -- made available to political campaigns -- from the public record so brokers no longer visit voters' homes asking about their ballots. Gimenez said he liked the idea, but cautioned that brokers would probably still target seniors, who tend to vote by mail, particularly at senior centers and assisted-living facilities.

Comments

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John Balzer

This Herald article sure sets the stage for a "who done it?" likely to sell papers. There are a few truisms to be gleaned here. Kathy Rundle has a long reputation of honesty and integrity. Her quick call to the Governor for an outside investigation proves she is true to form and she continues to be an asset to our community. I have met Al Lorenzo and don't peg him for a ballot box cheater. Sorry Mr. Mayor but that just leaves you!

mari556

wups

pedroman

ive never met mayor gimemnez but he doesnt strike me as a guy who jeopordizes his full term as mayor to deal with a low level election worker.?? no one beleives that

JohnSteel2365

isnt it interesting that the self proclaimed absentee ballot queen shasha tirador is working for joe martinez. a cop who knows a thing or two about fabricating evidence?? theres some thing fishy about this and i have a feeling its the smell from tirador.

datruth305

so the guys wins with out hialeah, makes sweeping financial changes, cuts his salary, saves tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars and then risks this all in hialeah scandal. not a chance. lol this is laughable. why would the walk in mayor get desparate n hire these folks. no way.. looks like some thing out of a spanish soap opera

Mike

Gimenez saved my life as a paramedic years ago. so im a lil bias.
I saw him rise and took joy in seeing him be fire chief, city manager, county commisioner and run as an outsider against county hall.... this is completely inconsistent with the man who risked his life for us as fireman and paramedic and, saved the city from bankruptcy. sorry i dont buy his involvement for a minute

Manny Rodriquez

"mike" It's great that Gimenez saved your life and all the other completely transparent lies you posted here. Do you actually think anybody believes the improbable tale you weaved here? Who on Earth would have posted this droll? Carlos?

TheSMiths

i dont believe in coincidences. a woman "coincidentally" shows up in pictures at hialeah event, then she "coincidentally" gets in trouble while wearing a Gimeniz shirt, and she "coincidentally" use to work for the campaign manager working against Gimeniz. its the worst frame job ever. but makes for a good read.

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