The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says he was “deeply troubled” that Attorney General Pam Bondi would make comments suggesting the agency wouldn’t investigate claims of fraud and irregularities in last week’s election and recount.
Commissioner Rick Swearingen made his comments in a letter sent to Bondi on Tuesday.
“I am deeply troubled that you think I have announced that FDLE would not be pursuing any investigation or inquiry into the conduct of elections officials in Broward or Palm Beach counties (or any other county) that may rise to the level of criminal conduct during the 2018 election,” Swearingen wrote to the attorney general. “I have made no such announcement.
“The statement released last week was “FDLE is working with DOS and will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud,” Swearingen said in the letter.
Bondi sent separate letters late Sunday to Swearingen and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who is Florida’s top election official, expressing concern about FDLE’s comments Friday that it is working with Detzner’s office and will investigate reports of cases of voter fraud but had not received any reports as of Friday. FDLE said an investigation had not been opened at that time.
“I am deeply troubled by your announcement that you will not pursue any investigation or inquiry into clearly documented irregularities of election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties,” Bondi wrote Swearingen.
She went on to tell Swearingen “to take the necessary steps to promote public safety and to ensure that our state will guarantee integrity in our elections process.
Swearingen told Bondi he believed the misunderstanding was a result of confusion in media reports about FDLE’s position on the matter which was released on Friday.
“Let me assure you that I had already taken the necessary steps to promote public safety and specifically the integrity of our elections process during the 2018 midterm election,” Swearingen wrote back. “A preliminary inquiry was initiated prior to the receipt of your letter.”
In a joint statement released Monday evening, Bondi and FDLE say they want “to assure Florida voters that we are actively engaged in monitoring processes for potential criminal activity.“ The statement said that procedures have been put into place to address allegations of voter fraud and criminal misconduct involving last week’s election.