Candidate in State Senate Race Fined as Case Works Through Criminal Court

A candidate in a controversial state Senate election agreed to pay a $6,500 fine from the Florida Commission on Ethics.

This comes as lawyers hash out what details will be available to the public for a controversial “sham” candidate case working its way through criminal court. 

Prosecutors charged former Republican state senator Frank Artiles and former candidate Alex Rodriguez with false swearing and conspiring to keep money and records off official election paperwork.

State attorney investigators allege Artiles paid Rodriguez $50,000 to run in Senate District 37 to siphon votes away from the Democratic candidate who had the same last name as Rodriguez. 

Republican Ileana Garcia defeated Jose Javier Rodriguez in Senate District 37 by 32 votes. 

Artiles and Rodriguez both pleaded not guilty. 

According to an agreement obtained by NBC 6, Rodriguez admits to and agrees to pay a fine of $6,500 to the Florida Commission on Ethics for not fully disclosing his financial interests. In this case according to JC Planas, an attorney who filed the complaint, he did not properly identify his bank account information. 

Rodriguez’s lawyer, William Barzee, and an attorney for the commission signed the joint stipulation agreement. Barzee has not returned a request for comment. 

During their July meeting, the Florida Commission on Ethics will likely bring up and approve the agreement. 

Florida’s political world is watching this case because details could reveal how these schemes work and if anyone else is involved. 

Earlier this year, law enforcement raided former State Senator Frank Artiles and issued subpoenas, obtaining boxes or records, Artiles's computer, and phone records. 

Last month, attorneys for Artiles filed a motion to limit records available to the public through the discovery process, claiming they included personal and unrelated information.

State Prosecutor Tim VanderGeisen argued relevant evidence should be open to the public per the law. 

Judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Miami-Dade County, Andrea Wolfson, Monday suggested the two sides meet in the next few days to go over redactions for confidential information: social security numbers, medical records, photos of children, etc. 

During the next hearing on June 23rd, the lawyers will lay out their case on what information is relevant and should be available to the public.

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