The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office engaged in a war of words Wednesday with congressional candidate and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, who called for a special prosecutor to take over a high-profile absentee ballot investigation.
MacDougall, a Republican, intends to challenge Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, whose campaign has been at the center of the investigation into hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests submitted online for last August's primary election.
Garcia fired his former chief of staff and top political adviser, Jeffrey Garcia, no relation, after Jeffrey Garcia admitted to the congressman that he had directed the campaign to submit some of the phantom requests.
In a letter Wednesday, MacDougall asked Republican Gov. Rick Scott to step in, accusing Miami-Dade prosecutors of taking too long in their probe.
"It is unacceptable that State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle has failed to produce a single indictment or arrest, despite an admission of guilt months ago from the congressman's chief of staff," MacDougall wrote. The state attorney is a Democrat.
Fernández Rundle spokesman Ed Griffith responded with a strongly worded statement in which he said he hoped MacDougall was "not using an ongoing criminal investigation as some kind of political fodder for his campaign."
"Mr. MacDougall must understand that a complicated investigation involving multiple targets, the serving of search warrants, the seizing of computers and papers and the ongoing forensic analysis of computer hard drives, takes time," Fernández Rundle Griffith wrote.
Prosecutors are taking "multiple statements" from witnesses and targets, Fernández Rundle Griffith added, noting that MacDougall has not called prosecutors with any additional evidence.
"As a former police officer, surely he knows the importance of providing law enforcement with any evidence available which may assist a criminal investigation," Fernández Rundle Griffith wrote.
Read Fernández Rundle's Griffith's full statement below.
Mr. MacDougall must understand that a complicated investigation involving multiple targets, the serving of search warrants, the seizing of computers and papers and the ongoing forensic analysis of computer hard drives, takes time. As has been reported many times in the media, we have continued to investigate this case including taking multiple statements from witnesses and targets. Mr. MacDougall certainly understands that bringing in a new team of prosecutors at the tail end of a lengthy investigation will only result in delaying the case and elongating the process.
If Mr. MacDougall has some credible evidence regarding what he has characterized as “widespread voter fraud” then we and our multiagency Voter Task Force team of 40 police investigators are and have been available to meet with him and consider the evidence. As a former police officer, surely he knows the importance of providing law enforcement with any evidence available which may assist a criminal investigation.
As of this date, he has neither contacted us nor has he called our Voter Hotline at 305-547-3300.
I would hope that Mr. MacDougal is not using an ongoing criminal investigation as some kind of political fodder for his campaign.
We remain confident that the community will be well served by our investigation and anticipated prosecution in this case.