New details have been released in the investigation of former Florida State Sen Frank Artiles (R) over his involvement in running “scam” campaigns in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election.
With his trial expected to begin August 30, prosecutors are firming up their case against the former GOP lawmaker in a political corruption case the Tampa Bay Times reports, “has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm in Gainesville, a top not-for-profit Miami hospital network and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization.”
According to the Miami Herald, new revelations show that Florida political operative Alex Alvarado — linked to Artiles — was funneling money to sham campaign officials in an effort to disrupt key 2020 state Senate elections.
The report notes that “documents released late Friday, provide new details into the breadth of the criminal investigation into Artiles and his longtime acquaintance, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez.”
“Prosecutors say Rodriguez was recruited by Artiles and paid some $44,000 to change his party affiliation from Republican to no party to qualify on the ballot and attempt to sway the outcome of the Miami-Dade Senate District 37 election. GOP candidate Illeana Garcia won the race by 32 votes. Rodriguez, who shared the same surname as the Democratic incumbent, received more than 6,000 votes,” the Herald reports. “Between June 15 and November 15, 2020, Artiles was under contract to work for veteran Republican political operative Pat Bainter for $15,000 a month, court documents show. Bainter paid Artiles $90,000 and reimbursed him for his travel, a courier service and $4,000 for ‘research,’ according to those documents.”
As part of the scam, one woman who was pregnant and desperate for money agreed to take $1,500 to chair a political committee with no plans to have her do any work.
In testimony 25-year-old Hailey DeFilippis, explained to investigators she was listed as the chair of “The Truth, a dark-money-funded political committee that spent $180,000 on political mail advertisements promoting sham candidates in key 2020 state Senate elections — two in Miami-Dade and one in Central Florida.”
She was later paid $2,500 more for the “inconvenience” after reporters called up asking about the group.
“Artiles signed a contract with Bainter on June 9, 2020. The next day, Rodriguez met Artiles at Artiles’ Palmetto Bay residence to fill out campaign forms, according to investigators who noted in an arrest affidavit that Rodriguez had ‘no prior knowledge as to what forms needed to be completed to qualify as a candidate for elected office and relied on Artiles’ instructions.,'” the report adds. “Neither Bainter nor Gardner have responded to phone calls or emails seeking comment since the Herald learned they were served subpoenas. The powerful GOP-linked research firm, based in Gainesville, also served as a general consultant for Republican Senate campaigns during the 2020 election cycle.”
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‘No Doubt’ Trump and His Allies Were Staging a ‘Seditious Conspiracy’: Former Harvard Law Professor
On Monday’s edition of CNN’s “OutFront,” former Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe broke down how the plan concocted by far-right lawyer John Eastman on behalf of former President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election constituted a “seditious conspiracy.”
“I know you call this an attempted coup, not just in the general use of the word that so many have adopted, but in a very specific way. You say Eastman delivered the blueprint,” said anchor Erin Burnett. “Tell me why you now feel so confident that that is exactly the word which describes exactly what it was he was trying to do, and that that was Trump’s intention.”
“Well, there’s no doubt from the information we now have about the meeting that Trump was holding with people like Giuliani and Eastman shortly before the insurrection that we all saw on live television, that they were planning, step by step, to twist arms and pressure people, including building a gallows if necessary with Pence’s name on it, in order to get the vice president to perform a role that the Constitution doesn’t assign the vice president,” said Tribe.
Tribe then went on to cite the specific law that he believes Trump and his allies broke with their actions before and during the Capitol riots.
“It was seditious conspiracy,” he said. “That’s the term that the U.S. Criminal Code uses, 18 U.S. Code section 2384, and then it led to inciting an insurrection. It was all part of a long plan, much more public than most coups that we see.”
Tribe went on to detail how the former president might try to replicate his illegitimate attempt to take power in 2024.
“The back-up plan is to get states to disregard the votes of the people even after the suppression of votes and the counting by people who are partisans if it doesn’t go their way,” he said.
Tribe concluded by warning Americans against complacency, as “we can’t just let that go on while we go over the cliff and destroy our democracy.”
Gaetz Copies Trump: Hires Ex-Epstein Attorney as Investigation Expands Into Campaign Finance: Report
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is taking a page out of Donald Trump’s book, hiring a an attorney who has represented convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. In 2020 Trump “poached” two Epstein attorneys, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr. According to The Daily Beast, the embattled Florida Republican Congressman hired another ex-Epstein attorney, one who has also defended the drug lord “El Chapo,” as the Dept. of Justice investigation into Gaetz’s alleged possible sex trafficking and sex with a minor grows.
“The probe has reportedly expanded from sexual misconduct to include campaign finance issues,” The Independent reports.
“Quoting a “person familiar with the matter,’ The Daily Beast reports that Marc Fernich is representing the campaign in connection with the investigation into the Republican Congressman,” according to The Independent. That investigation “reportedly includes sex trafficking, prostitution, obstruction of justice, and campaign finance issues.”
Gaetz has not been charged and denies any allegations.
Citing his “mastery of precedent,” Fernich’s website says that enables him “to construct subtle, novel and creative arguments that other attorneys may miss. These arguments can make potential winners out of seemingly hopeless cases, spelling the difference between victory and defeat.”
It lists some of his “notable” clients, including former acting Gambino crime family boss John A. “Junior” Gotti and other “Alleged Crime Bosses”; “Alleged Cult Leader” Keith Raniere; and “Pharmaceutical Executive and Socialite Charged with Killing Allegedly Autistic Son,” Gigi Jordan.
Under “notable clients,” it also lists “Friends of Matt Gaetz, Campaign Committee for U.S. Congressman.”
‘I Hope Your Car Explodes’: Newly Revealed Text Messages Show GOP Rep. ‘Threatening’ Democrat He Used to Date
In newly revealed text messages, Michigan state GOP Rep. Steve Marino vowed to destroy Democratic state Rep. Mari Manoogian’s life, even saying he hoped her car exploded on her way to work, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“I’m making it my life mission to destroy you,” Marino said to Manoogian in an undated text message, according to Ingham County court records. As the Detroit Free Press points out, the the messages and statements from Marino to Manoogian were used to secure a personal protection order against Marino.
In one text message, Marino tells Manoogian to “hide on the House floor” because “I’m going to park right next to your desk and ream you a new a–hole each session day until I leave that place.”
Court filings show Manoogian said she dated Marino for about four months in 2019, but things changed after their relationship ended. Manoogian said she believed Marino to be mentally unstable.
“Face to face and over text, Steve began threatening me and harassing me. It has escalated to a point where I fear for my safety and for Steve’s own safety,” she said in a statement filed with the court. “I am afraid of Steve. He repeatedly tells me that he hopes I get in a car crash on my commute to Lansing, and that he hopes my car will blow up…He constantly berated me with obscenities, calling me a c—, a b—-, and telling me to go f— myself.”
Manoogian also describes an encounter where Marino allegedly became physically abusive.
“Steve has emotionally and verbally abused me relentlessly. He also physically abused me. I do not like hugs, I am not a touchy-feely person. Steve knows this. He chased me around his apartment and held me against my will in a ‘hug’ until I cried,” she stated.
Read the full report over at the Detroit Free Press.
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