Orlando Sentinel by Annie Martin
June 18, 2021
The Orlando Sentinel filed a motion in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Friday opposing an effort by former state legislator Frank Artiles to shield evidence in a criminal case against him alleging he paid another man to run as an independent candidate in a South Florida state Senate election.
It’s one of three key Senate races last year — including one in Central Florida won by Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur of Sanford — in which so-called “ghost” candidates appeared to run in order to siphon votes from Democrats.
Attorneys for Artiles, a former state senator who was arrested in March on charges he violated campaign finance laws by paying a financially struggling friend to enter a Miami-area Florida Senate race, asked a judge last month to shield Artiles’ cell phone contacts, texts and other evidence gathered by prosecutors from public view.
Those documents would typically be subject to the state’s open records laws.
If the documents were publicly disclosed, it would be “an impossibility” for Artiles, who is accused of paying nearly $45,000 to Alex Rodriguez to file as a no-party affiliate (NPA) candidate, to receive a fair trial, his attorneys claimed in the motion.
But attorneys representing the Sentinel argued in their motion that neither fair trial concerns nor personal privacy rights justify withholding the documents from the public, and noted that Artiles’ request to shield the records was vague about what he wanted to conceal.