Florida arrests petition gatherer accused of submitting fraudulent signatures for abortion measure

The FDLE's state elections office investigated in concert with the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has arrested a Tampa man for allegedly committing petition fraud on an abortion initiative.

Investigators say Andres Felipe Salazar, a paid petition circulator for Floridians Protecting Freedom, submitted more than 30 fraudulent signatures in Sarasota County. Tampa police arrested Salazar on March 21.

The 37-year-old is being held on 12 charges of criminal use of personal identification information. He was released on a $5,000 bond.

The arrest by Tampa Police followed an investigation by FDLE’s election police force, working with the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office. Republican Ron Turner serves as Supervisor of Elections in the county.

Floridians Protecting Freedom in January passed the petition threshold to put a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to obtain an abortion in the state constitution. Election officials at that point had verified more than 911,000 legitimate signatures.

The organization had worked over eight months to secure the necessary signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot.

The Republican-dominated Legislature has approved a measure banning most abortions after six weeks of gestation. That limit is on hold, pending a Florida Supreme Court ruling over a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy passed in Florida in 2022.

Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify the amendment question from the ballot, arguing its summary language will mislead voters. The Florida Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision this week on whether the amendment can appear on the ballot.

Floridians Protecting Freedom has already started campaigning for Amendment 4.

The FDLE in October arrested three paid petition circulators, that time working in concert with the Leon, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward County Supervisors of Elections Offices.

The state agency at that time did not identify the campaign for which the individuals were gathering petitions.

Andres Felipe Salazar. Image via Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Hung Wiil

    March 26, 2024 at 11:44 am

    Book ’em, Rono. The whole petition is misleading and should not be allowed on the ballot. No, the voters are not smart. In fact, they are rather stupid.

    • S. Wabbit

      March 26, 2024 at 12:58 pm

      Like you.

  • Tammy Ferguson

    March 27, 2024 at 10:52 am


Comments are closed.


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