Reporting Jim DeFede
MIAMI (CBS4) – A week after allegations first surfaced regarding absentee ballot fraud in the Miami Dade County mayor’s race, the scandal has now made its way into the race for state attorney.
On Tuesday, Rod Vereen accused Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle of dragging her feet in the investigation of two women allegedly caught with more than two dozen absentee ballots.
Vereen, who is running against Rundle in the August 14 Democratic primary, suggested Rundle may not have charged the women because she’s afraid the women might be tied to one of her own political consultants.
“It is the State Attorney’s Office that is prohibiting these two young ladies from being arrested and charged in this case,” Vereen said during a press conference in front of the Miami Dade Election headquarters in Doral. “This is just another situation where our state attorney has put politics over professionalism and prosecution. And this has to stop. The taxpayers deserve more and they are going to get more.”
Vereen sent a letter Tuesday afternoon asking the Governor to appoint an independent prosecutor.
Vereen focused on the fact that both Gimenez and Rundle use the same political consultant – Al Lorenzo. Asked if there was any proof that Lorenzo was in anyway tied to the two women allegedly caught fraudulent ballots, Vereen admitted he had no proof.
In a statement, Rundle reiterated that there is no evidence connecting anyone from her campaign to the alleged fraud. She went on to say: “Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, I have spoken to the Governor’s General Counsel’s Office and informed them that, should the investigation uncover any actions that involve persons assisting in my campaign, I will do as always and immediately request an Executive Assignment of that piece of the investigation.”
Vereen said that’s not good enough
“She needs to step aside based on the allegations alone,” Vereen said. “There is an appearance right now of a conflict of interest. There is an appearance if impropriety.”
Rundle wasn’t the only one on the defensive Tuesday. Mayor Carlos Gimenez continued to distance himself from the scandal.
“I’ve had all my consultants, all my employees, sign sworn affidavits, notarized affidavits, under penalty of perjury that they did not contract these two women, that these two women do not work for my campaign,” Gimenez said.