Arrest for Campaign Crimes Is Latest of Many Controversies for Ex-Florida Sen. Frank Artiles

Frank Artiles
Frank Artiles Photo via Florida House of Representatives
Former Republican Florida state senator Frank Artiles surrendered himself to Miami-Dade County authorities this morning after a police raid on his home. The ex-lawmaker is accused of several campaign-finance felonies stemming from his alleged interference in the 2020 state senate election.

Jail records show Artiles was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center just before 2 p.m.

The criminal charges come after local news outlets, including the Miami Herald and WPLG Local 10, found Artiles had likely planted Alex Rodriguez, a shill candidate with no party affiliation, in the state senate race in District 37 last year. The district covers much of the City of Miami and South Miami-Dade County. Alex Rodriguez shares a surname with incumbent Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez, a coincidence many believe was intended to confuse voters.

Jose Javier Rodriguez eventually lost to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia by only 32 votes after a manual recount.

According to reporting by the Herald, Artiles boasted about planting Alex Rodriguez in the race while at an election-night party at an Orlando-area Irish pub.

Officers with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office Public Corruption Task Force raided Artiles' Palmetto Bay home on Monday. According to the search warrant, Artiles paid Alex Rodriguez, an acquaintance of his, nearly $45,000 with the purpose of siphoning votes from Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez, who provided testimony to investigators that helped build the case against Artiles, also faces criminal charges related to his candidacy.

Known as one of Florida's brashest lawmakers, Artiles has a reputation for controversy that ultimately led to his unceremonious exit from the state legislature in 2017.

During a caustic rant that included calling a fellow lawmaker a "pussy" and two Tallahassee lobbyists "faggots," Artiles called six white lawmakers the N-word in front of some of his Black colleagues in the legislature. His use of the racist slur led to intense backlash, including a petition with 4,000 signatures calling for his resignation.

Artiles eventually did resign, but not before reporters found he had been paying Playboy and Hooters models thousands of dollars for "consulting" services.

But those were far from Artiles' only controversies while in office. In 2010, local blogger Elaine de Valle of Political Cortadito found him living outside his district, in violation of Florida law. He admitted to the violation but did not face criminal charges.

Artiles was also famously accused of punching a college student at a Tallahassee bar in 2015. Although Artiles denied the accusation, the student corroborated the story to the media. The senator defended himself by claiming if he had punched someone, they would've been in the hospital.

The Republican was also known for pushing a number of controversial bills, including a transgender bathroom bill and a measure that would prevent doctors from asking their patients if they owned guns.

Since leaving office, Artiles has been working as a political lobbyist.
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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos