Two days later, the cash flowed from the PACs to an Orlando-area print and promoting agency.
Shortly thereafter, got here a torrent of almost similar political fliers seemingly meant to siphon away assist from Democratic candidates by tricking voters into casting their ballots for purported spoiler candidates who demonstrated no actual curiosity in getting elected. None, for instance, engaged in typical campaigning actions or raised vital funds.
In one case, the mailers seem to have helped a Republican—a co-founder of Latinas For Trump—unseat the Democratic incumbent in a state Senate race by a razor-thin margin of simply 32 votes.
The state of affairs, which has been producing headlines in Florida for weeks, has all of the makings of a “dark money” thriller within the Sunshine State.
Among the important thing questions: What precisely is Proclivity and what was the aim and desired impact behind its beneficiant contributions to the 2 fledging PACs? And, why did these PACs assist unknown candidates with no celebration affiliations and no actual likelihood of profitable?
CNN has discovered that Proclivity was created in Delaware in 2019. Its president is listed in its company filings as Richard Alexander. Attempts to succeed in Alexander have been unsuccessful; a telephone quantity for the corporate is now not working and its listed tackle is a UPS retailer in Atlanta. Staff on the retailer confirmed that Proclivity had a mailbox, however declined to offer any extra info, citing shopper confidentiality.
Though Proclivity’s cash paid for promoting ostensibly focusing on Democratic voters, it flowed by way of a pair of PACs, certainly one of which has connections to a younger Republican political strategist named Alex Alvarado. Alvarado’s stepfather is president of the corporate paid to print the fliers. The firm is run out of an Orlando-area residence that Alvarado’s stepfather and mom personal, data present.
Alvarado, a former congressional intern and entrepreneur, declined to be interviewed for this story. Records present that his agency, Alvarado Strategies, was paid greater than $267,000 to date this yr for its political work.
The two Florida PACs that acquired the Proclivity contributions have been each registered on the identical date and time — October 2 at 11:34 am, in response to Florida Division of Elections paperwork.
One day later, one of many PACs — Our Florida PC — received $370,000 from Proclivity; the opposite — The Truth PC — received $180,000.
The PACS are every chaired by girls of their mid-20s who seem like newcomers to the political scene. Neither lady responded to a number of messages left for them on the telephone numbers listed for the PACs. Attempts to succeed in them by way of numerous different means have been unsuccessful.
Sierra Olive, who’s listed as chair of Our Florida PC, as soon as shared an tackle with Emily Leiva, the girl with whom Alvarado at the moment owns a home, in response to data. Olive posted a photograph of herself and Leiva to Facebook in 2017 with the caption “favorite human.”
Leiva didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.
Some of the fliers paid for by Our Florida PC and The Truth PC contained similar language referencing sometimes Democratic themes akin to fixing well being care, combating local weather change and talking fact to energy. They have been circulated in no less than three state Senate races through which a non-party affiliated candidate was operating along with a Democrat and Republican.
In the South Florida race that includes the Latinas for Trump candidate, the purported spoiler candidate had the identical final identify — Rodriguez — as Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was charged with two counts of felony grand theft in 2012, in response to court docket data. He pleaded responsible, although adjudication of the costs was withheld, the paperwork present.
In one other case, Miami legal professional Juan A. Sanchez mentioned Rodriguez went lacking after paying solely a portion of what a decide ordered him to pay to a shopper in a dispute involving a nugatory verify.
“We couldn’t track him down,” mentioned Sanchez, who mentioned Rodriguez was finally discovered residing in Boca Raton, Florida. “He gave a sob story that he was broke and had no money.”
The legal professional mentioned he struggles to imagine that Rodriguez critically sought to change into a state senator.
“That would be something incredible,” he mentioned.
Alex Rodriguez didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark. His legal professional, William Barzee, declined to remark.
Jose Javier Rodriguez, the incumbent state senator who misplaced by 32 votes, has referred to as for a probe into Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy and who’s behind it.
“Democracy requires transparency,” he mentioned in a video shared with the media, “and in order to achieve that I believe this election warrants a full investigation.”
Ileana Garcia, the newly elected Republican state senator, aspect stepped questions from CNN about her involvement — if any — within the different Rodriguez’s marketing campaign.
“I will not allow this temper tantrum to distract from the important work ahead,” Garcia mentioned, partially, in a press release.
Erin Isaac, who serves as a spokesperson for each Garcia and Florida’s Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, mentioned the committee had no connection to Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy.
“Did we have anything to do with it? My answer is no,” she mentioned.
The Miami Herald, citing “sources with knowledge,” reported final week that Miami-Dade prosecutors have launched an inquiry into Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy. A spokesperson for the workplace declined to substantiate or deny the existence of an investigation to CNN.
Ben Wilcox, analysis director of the nonpartisan watchdog group Integrity Florida, mentioned he has little doubt that somebody operating a darkish cash marketing campaign impacted no less than one state senate seat.
“Florida is so loosely regulated when it comes to financing of campaigns that it’s probably legal, but it really shouldn’t be,” Wilcox mentioned. “It’s a disservice to voters and it calls into question the integrity of our elections.”
CNN’s Amitoj Singh, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, Cybele Mayes-Osterman and Benjamin Naughton contributed to this report.