After having learned that his name appears next to the amount of $1,500 in a notebook kept by an alleged Hialeah ballot broker, lawyer Ricardo Corona said Tuesday that he never hired anyone to collect absentee ballots on his behalf during his unsuccessful campaign for a Miami-Dade judgeship in 2008.
“I do not know Deisy Cabrera. I have never met Deisy Cabrera. And I have not paid anybody to make payments to Deisy Cabrera,” Corona said in an interview with El Nuevo Herald, referring to the alleged ballot broker, or boletera, who was arrested last year.
Cabrera, 57, was charged last summer with ballot fraud and collecting absentee ballots in violation of a county ordinance. She has pleaded not guilty.
When authorities arrested Cabrera, they seized three notebooks in which she kept the names and contact information of more than 550 voters she apparently visited during every election cycle. Dozens of voters have said that Cabrera helped them fill out their absentee ballots, and many of them said they did not know whom they had voted for.
Cabrera also wrote down the names of seven judicial candidates in 2008 next to amounts of money that add up to more than $10,000. Through her attorney, Cabrera has said that she will not speak to El Nuevo Herald.
Corona, who lost his race against current Circuit Judge Abby Cynamon, said that during his campaign several activists approached him to offer votes for money. For that reason, he said, he initially thought that Cabrera might have entered his name and the amount of $1,500 in her notebook because it was “the amount of money they were going to request from me.”
Corona, however, changed his mind after learning that next to that amount Cabrera wrote a phrase that seems to say, “Paid in full.” Corona concluded that one of the consultants his Cynamon had hired recruited Cabrera to collect ballots against him. In other words, Corona surmised, Cabrera operated as an “anti- boletera.”
Corona initially gave an explanation Monday night on the television program La Diferencia (The Difference) hosted by Roberto Rodríguez-Tejera on the local TeleMiami station, in which Corona accused two well-known Miami-Dade County political consultants, Al Lorenzo and Armando Gutiérrez, of being behind this alleged operation.
Corona has hired Elaine De Valle, a former Miami Herald reporter who publishes the blog Political Cortadito, to handle his public relations on this issue.
Corona accused Lorenzo because his firm, Quantum Results Inc., was linked to last summer’s ballot fraud scandal. For weeks prior to her arrest, Cabrera was a frequent visitor at the Hialeah office for the reelection of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez.
Quantum Results was a consultant for the campaigns of Giménez and State Attorney Katherine Fernández-Rundle, who recused herself from the Cabrera case after learning that someone who worked for her own campaign had been seen with the alleged boletera.
Lorenzo said Tuesday that he would rather not respond to Corona’s allegations.
Lorenzo has told El Nuevo Herald that he has worked for some of the same campaigns as Cabrera, including that of former state Sen. Rudy García for Hialeah mayor in November 2011.
However, he said he could not remember whether he hired Cabrera for some of the judicial campaigns he was a consultant for in 2008. Lorenzo has said he is reviewing his files to determine whether he made payments to her during that year.
Lorenzo worked for the campaigns of four of the seven candidates whose names appear in Cabrera’s notes: Migna Sánchez-Llorens, Stephen Millán, Josie Pérez Velis and Mario García. The other names appearing in Cabrera’s notebooks are Corona, Marcia Caballero and Denise Martínez-Scanziani.