Pages and pages of a WhatsApp chat reveal that campaign workers for Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a former state senator and unsuccessful 2018 Republican candidate for Miami-Dade County Commission in District 5, at least joked about stealing or destroying absentee ballots.
According to the Miami New Times, the messages concerning tearing up or hiding ballots were about those intended for Zoraida Barreiro, a Democratic candidate. Neither she nor Diaz de la Portilla ultimately won the election.
“Stolen, hahahaa,” says one of the messages accompanying a picture of an absentee ballot. “I did not give it to the lady but what do we do if she voted for Zoraida????”
Diaz de la Portilla vehemently denied the accusations. “None of this is from my campaign or my campaign workers,” he told the New Times. “Your article is libelous.”
The Republican is already under investigation by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle after a city commissioner used public money to buy food and other favors for one of Diaz de la Portilla’s campaign events.
He filed for another shot at Miami City Hall in January, signing up to run for Miami City Commission, per the Miami Herald.
Should the messages and photos be proven real, Diaz de la Portilla’s would not even be the first absentee ballot fraud case to come out of the 2018 elections.
Mark Harris, the Republican candidate for the congressional seat in North Carolina’s ninth district, ultimately called for a new election and bowed out of the race after his campaign operatives were found to have participated in an absentee ballot tampering scheme. A handful of them have been arrested. Democrat Dan McCready, the same candidate who ran the first time around, will face state Senator Dan Bishop (R) in the redo election.