Gimenez responds to allegations about campaign fraud investigation

Frustrated by allegations of obstruction of an investigation of election fraud that tainted his campaign last year, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has asked police administrators to request all communications between the detectives assigned to the case and prosecutors.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department will reach out to the Broward state attorney’s office because of these allegations that the Public Corruption Unit has dragged its feet in this investigation,” he said.

His decision Wednesday comes a day after the Police Benevolent Association president said former public corruption detectives have gone to the FBI to complain about the absentee ballot fraud investigation.

A spokesman for the Broward prosecutor’s office said that neither the mayor nor police have interfered with the case, while acknowledging a considerable delay in the delivery of clear and legible copies of the notebooks confiscated from defendant Deisy Cabrera, an accused absentee ballot broker..

The case was transferred to Broward prosecutors last year after Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle recused herself to avoid a possible conflict of interest. Cabrera had been a regular visitor to the Hialeah campaign office of Gimenez, who shared a political consultant with Fernández Rundle.

Luis Rodriguez, a former detective in the Corruption Unit, said he is willing to tell the FBI about what he considers serious failures in the investigation.

Rodriguez was not assigned to the case.

He questioned why a warrant was never sought to search Gimenez’s campaign office and why Cabrera’s notebooks were shelved instead of analyzed.

The three notebooks contained handwritten notes on hundreds of voters and what appear to be payments from judges and judicial candidates.

Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, said that there wasn’t sufficient probable cause to seek a search warrant.

Rodriguez resigned on Friday after being transferred to general investigations as part of a restructuring of the Public Corruption Unit.

He described his transfer as an act of reprisal from his superiors because he worked last year on the campaign of Gimenez’s opponent, former County Commissioner Joe Martinez.

“They moved me into an investigative Siberia so that I may never again see what Carlos Gimenez is doing,” he said.

Griffith shared with El Nuevo Herald a copy of an email sent by Rodriguez to an assistant state attorney in which he expressed his distain for the county mayor.

“I have to unseat Gimenez,” he wrote. “If he wins, our bureau is gone.”

Both Rodriguez and PBA President John Rivera said the changes in the Public Corruptions Unit were a form of political revenge against the detectives who investigated the fraud allegations.

Vice Mayor Gerardo “Chip” Iglesias, who oversees the police department, dismissed Rivera’s comments because the union leader had himself suggested the elimination of the unit during negotiations last year.

Rivera said he’d offered that suggestion as a “ridiculous” response to the county’s own proposals.

Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.

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