Anamary Pedrosa doled out constituent services to Hialeah’s ballot brokers from county Commissioner Esteban Bovo’s district office for months. Then, when the Aug. 14 elections approached, they say she asked them for a favor of her own: to collect absentee ballots for three candidates running for the state Legislature.
“She wanted me to help with the campaigns of Manny Díaz Jr., Eddy González and [José] Oliva”, said Claribel “Beba” Ferrer, who first entered Bovo’s Hialeah office in March to ask for help notarizing a document.
For more than a decade, Ferrer, 71, has collected absentee ballots from friends and acquaintances who follow her advice in choosing candidates. She said she never planned to get involved in any campaigns this year, but agreed to help the 25-year-old Pedrosa.
“I felt bad because she had helped me and I didn’t want to say no,” said Ferrer, who turned over a half dozen ballots to Pedrosa.
Ferrer is the second ballot broker, or boletera, to say Pedrosa sought their services in support of Díaz, González and Oliva. Bovo also supported these candidates.
Email records, interviews with boleteros and other documents show how Pedrosa ingratiated herself to multiple ballot brokers who operate in Hialeah. She filled out forms seeking government financial assistance, read and translated letters and even snagged invitations for a few to a special dinner for the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County.
Then, in the weeks before the election, some 164 absentee ballots wound up in her hands. Pedrosa has told authorities that Sergio “El Tío” Robaina and others gave her the ballots in Bovo’s office because they trusted her to take them to the post office. Pedrosa told authorities that Bovo knew nothing.
Bovo has also denied knowing or approving of his aide’s activities related to ballots or political campaigns. For this story, Bovo refused to speak to El Nuevo Herald or respond to questions in writing.
“After reading your questions it is abundantly clear to me that the only interest you have is in writing a sensationalized story that is based on negative inferences, distortions of the truth from individuals who have less than stellar credibility and just outright pure speculation,” he wrote in an email.
Díaz, Oliva and González, who won their respective races, have not responded to multiple phone messages left on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Thursday, Robaina, who faces ballot fraud charges, told El Nuevo Herald that Pedrosa asked him to collect absentee ballots in support of the three candidates. Robaina, 74, said he agreed to help because he thinks highly of Pedrosa and appreciates her attention to elderly constituents. Records show Pedrosa routinely sent medical faxes on his behalf.
According to Robaina, Pedrosa and her mother stopped by his house on several occasions to count and pick up dozens of ballots.
Until now, the criminal investigation surrounding the bundle of 164 ballots that Pedrosa dropped off at a Hialeah mailbox in July has focused on Robaina. He’s charged with tampering with the ballots of a woman with dementia and her son. Robaina says the allegations aren’t true.
Pedrosa, who spoke to authorities under subpoena, has declined to comment.