JUNE 17, 2013


A debate seems to have developed over whether what Francis Suarez’s Operation Manager was doing was an effort to engage in Absentee Ballot Fraud.

I think that barring any evidence that there was a lot more to what happened than what has been acknowledged was that the evidence, even before Katherine Fernandez-Rundle got all excited and sicced her Police Task Force on this guy, supports the claim was that this was not a case of attempted fraud, as fraud has generally been committed when it came to Absentee Ballots.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong in trying to get people to vote by Absentee Ballot. The Suarez campaign seems to have decided that a Cinquo de Mayo street party in the Brickell area would be a good place to find young people who might be potential voters, and equally, if not more importantly, might be willing to be part of future campaign activities, especially in the last days of the campaign when generating support and helping to get out the vote is critical.

So, in order to accomplish both goals, they set up some sort of table at this event and tried to get potential voters to commit to filing out an application for an Absentee Ballot.

There was nothing wrong in that.  You talk to people, if they’re interested, you get them to fill out the application, and you hope that when they get the Absentee Ballot they fill it out, and vote for your guy.

The problem came about because instead of having folks fill out a straight forward Absentee Ballot request on a postcard with the Board of Elections address on the other side of the post card and then dropping all of these postcards in a mail box at the end of the day, the campaign had them fill out an Absentee Ballot request that Baggini or someone else in the campaign had designed that I suspect was intended to collect more than the basic information that is on the official Board of Elections Absentee Ballot application.

What I’m willing to bet was that Suarez’s campaign effort was not only to get folks to apply for an Absentee Ballot but also to collect information on those folks as part of an effort to create a databank that could be used later on.

I sent Francis Suarez an email asking him to send me a copy of one of these applications on Sunday morning:

But even though I said I was writing a story that supported his claim that his campaign was not engaged in an effort to commit fraud, he didn’t responded, not even to tell me he wouldn’t send me a copy of one of the applications.

So I’m left with no recourse other than to quote my colleague GeniusOfDespair over at Eye On Miami who wrote a couple days ago about Baggini’s actions, saying, “Young people think they can do everything on line.”

And that’s what’s got Juan Pablo Baggini’s weenie in the ringer. Had he mailed the applications instead of going online to apply for the Absentee Ballots, there never would have been a problem.

It was the act of not mailing the applications and instead applying for 20 ballots from his computer, rather than 20 ballots from 20 separate computers that served as the basis for Katherine Fernandez-Rundle to go and get a subpoena and a Search Warrant, which is now the basis for Baggini possibly being charged with a felony.

Of course, this is Miami, so how could this story not include at least a cameo appearance by none other than Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff.


For those of you who were reading this blog 18 months ago, you will recall my big free-for-all with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and their efforts to encourage folks living within the DDA borders to apply for an Absentee Ballot by using a form that they had designed, that was almost the same as the Board of Election’s application, but with the additional request that the folks provide their email addresses.

My fight with the DDA centered over the fact that their efforts to do this coincided with the reelection campaign of none other that Commissioner “Ethics,” who also just happened to be the Chairman of the DDA.

My allegation at the time was that the DDA’s efforts were little more than a scheme, using public money, to engage in activities that were intended to benefit Sarnoff.

Rather than go through the whole saga again, here is a link to the Master Page that has links to all of the stories related to that deal, including the refusal of the Florida Attorney General to issue a legal opinion, and the subsequent Secretary of State’s legal opinion that supported my claim that the applications that the DDA had collected as part of their data mining effort were in fact public records.

The legal opinion is important because it spells out the ability of “independent third party” handlers - like candidates - being able collect and copy the information on applications before forwarding them to the Elections Board.

Here is the relevant portion of that opinion.


Copy the link below, and it will be a permanent link to this page that you can post on Facebook, or anywhere else.

Again, Baggini’s problems arose because neither Suarez, nor anyone else on the campaign either understood - although given the spate of recent news stories in the Miami Herald about what had been going on in the Joe Garcia Congressional campaign it’s hard to fathom how an alarm bell couldn’t have gone on in someone’s head - or told Baggini not to do anything on line and to mail the applications to the Elections Board.

Of course, the big unanswered question which cannot be answered here is just how much more information was the Suarez campaign interested in collecting that day from the potential Absentee Ballot voters, and was that part of the reason that the applications weren’t mailed in?

That would require getting a copy of the actual application, and it doesn’t seem that Francis Suarez is interested in providing that information - at least to me.

So, unfortunately we’re left to speculate.

What’s not left for speculation though is that whether he likes it or not, or whether he thinks its fair, Francis Suarez bears the ultimate blame for this screw up.

He’s not only the candidate, but he’s the candidate running on a supposed campaign claiming that he represents a new day of competence and accountability.

Therefore it was his responsibility to make sure that not only were things done right, but given his father’s less than stellar history - can we just say sorry-ass history with a vote from the grave by Manuel Yip and the rest of the sorry Absentee Ballot scandal that cost him his position as Mayor - that when it came to anything having to do with Absentee Ballots, Francis Suarez needed to treat everything having to do with that issue like it was radioactive.

Obviously he didn’t, and so now he’s going to pay whatever the political price comes from this failure of supervision.  When you mount a political campaign on being smart and  competent, and get caught being stupid and incompetent, you deserve to get smacked really hard.

Unfortunately, no matter what price Francis Suarez pays it will pale in comparison to the price that Juan Pablo Baggini pays if Katherine Fernandez-Rundle decides to charge him with a felony.

But then, it’s Miami AND its politics, and it’s always the hired help and the little people who end up getting screwed. Unfortunately, Katherine Fernandez-Rundle has a bad history of screwing the little people, and to do so when she can help out a pal like Regalado is just another reason why...

It’s Miami, Bitches!