Outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi on Sunday scolded the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for declining so far to investigate the tabulation of votes in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Bondi, a Tampa Republican, also demanded Secretary of State Ken Detzner report all election irregularities in the Democratic-leaning counties to the Office of Statewide Prosecution, which reports to her.
The state’s chief legal officer sent a letter to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen saying the law enforcement agency has an obligation to investigate now.
“I am deeply troubled by your announcement that you will not pursue any investigation or inquiry into clearly documented irregularities of election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties,” Bondi wrote.
In a separate letter, Bondi told Detzner to report “any indication creating a reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity” on the part of Broward or Palm Beach elections officials to her office. (Both letters are also at the bottom of this post.)
Republican Gov. Rick Scott, as a U.S. Senate candidate and not as Governor, on Thursday announced a lawsuit against Broward and Palm Beach counties demanding records on the number of votes cast.
That came as continued votes caused his lead in a Senate race over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson to erode.
When final unofficial vote totals were reported to the Division of Elections by noon Saturday, Scott held a 12,562-vote, or 0.15 percent, lead in the Senate election—well with the 0.5 percent to trigger a statewide mandatory machine recount.
At a press conference, Scott also called on the FDLE to investigate irregularities in the two counties.
An FDLE spokesperson said they were “working with” Department of State officials but had not received any credible reports of elections fraud and would not investigate—at least not at that time.
“The FDLE communicated with the Department of State and they indicated at the time that they have no allegations of fraud,” FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns said Friday afternoon.
“We offered our assistance in the event that any criminal allegations are identified, and we will remain in contact with them.”
Bondi’s letters came the same day that Scott filed an emergency complaint (see below) seeking to require that FDLE and local sheriff’s offices impound and secure all voting machines, tallies, and ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties that are not actively in use.
Scott’s complaint also asks a judge to insist, in particular, that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes not destroy any ballots and that Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher follow legal requirements for reviewing ballots.
In a statement, Democrats said such tactics showed an abuse of power by Scott.
“In suing to seize ballots and impound voting machines, Rick Scott is doing his best to impersonate Latin American dictators who have overthrown democracies in Venezuela and Cuba,” said Juan Peñalosa, the Florida Democratic Party’s executive director.
“The Governor is using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our Democracy.”