Two days later, the money flowed from the PAC to a printing and advertising company in the Orlando area.
Shortly afterwards, almost identical political leaflets appeared, apparently aimed at gaining the support of democratic candidates by fooling the electorate into allegedly casting their votes for spoiler candidates who were not really interested in the election. None were engaged in typical campaign activities or raised significant resources.
In one case, correspondents appear to have helped a Republican – co-founder of Latinas For Trump – shave a thin, with just 32 votes, to defeat Democrats in the state’s Senate race.
The situation that has been generating headlines in Florida for weeks has every reason for the mystery of “dark money” in the Sunlight State.
Among the key questions: What exactly is Proclivity, and what was the purpose and desired impact behind the generous contribution to the two start-up PACs? And why did PACs support unknown candidates who have no party affiliation and no chance of winning?
CNN learned that Proclivity was established in Delaware in 2019. Its chairman is named Richard Alexander in his corporate submissions. Unsuccessful attempts to reach Alexander; the company’s phone number no longer works and the address listed is a UPS store in Atlanta. Store staff confirmed that Proclivity had a mailbox, but refused to provide further information, citing customer confidentiality.
Although Proclivity’s money, which was apparently directed at democratic voters, flowed through a pair of PACs, one of which is linked to a young Republican political strategist named Alex Alvarado. Alvarado’s stepfather is the president of a company paid to print flyers. The company ran out of a home near Orlando owned by Alvarado’s stepfather and mother, records show.
Alvarado, a former congressional trainee and entrepreneur, declined to be interviewed for this story. Records show that his company, Alvarado Strategies, has been paid more than $ 267,000 so far this year for his political work.
The two Florida PACs that received Proclivity contributions were all registered on the same day and time — Oct. 2 at 11:34 a.m. — according to Florida Electoral Department documents.
A day later, one of our PACs – our Florida computer – received $ 370,000 from Proclivity; the other, The Truth PC, received $ 180,000.
Each of the PACSs is presided over by women in their mid-twenties who seem new to political life. None of the women responded to multiple messages left on the phone numbers listed at the PACs. Attempts to reach them by various other means were unsuccessful.
According to records, Sierra Olive, who is the president of our Florida computer, once shared her address with Emily Leiva, the woman Alvarado currently owns a house with. In 2017, Olive posted a photo of herself and Leiva on Facebook with the caption “favorite man.”
Leiva did not reply to several requests for comments.
Some of the flyers paid for by our Florida computer and The Truth PC featured typically democratic topics in the same language, such as tidying up health, fighting climate change, and telling the truth to power. They were distributed in at least three state senate races in which a non-party candidate ran alongside a Democrat and Republican.
In the South Florida race between the Latino and Trump candidate, the alleged spoiler candidate had the same last name – Rodriguez – as Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez.
According to court records, Rodriguez was charged with two crimes in 2012. He pleaded guilty, although the charges were withheld, the documents show.
In another case, Miami attorney Juan A. Sanchez said Rodriguez disappeared after paying only a portion of what a judge ordered him to pay a client in a dispute involving a worthless check.
“We couldn’t find him,” said Sanchez, who said Rodriguez was eventually found in Boca Raton, Florida. – He told a sobbing story that he was smashed and had no money.
The lawyer said he could hardly believe Rodriguez had made a serious attempt to be a state senator.
“That would be something incredible,” he said.
Alex Rodriguez did not respond to CNN’s comments. His lawyer, William Barzee, declined to comment.
Jose Javier Rodriguez, the incumbent state senator who lost 32 votes, asked for an investigation into Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy and who is behind it.
“Democracy requires transparency,” he said in a video shared with the media, “and to achieve that, I believe this choice requires a full investigation.”
Ileana Garcia, the newly elected Republican state senator, asked CNN questions about her participation, if any, in the other Rodriguez campaign.
“I will not allow this temper to distract you from the important work ahead of us,” Garcia said in part in a statement.
Erin Isaac, a spokeswoman for Garcia and the Florida Republican Senators ’Campaign Committee, said the committee had no connection to Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy.
“Did we have anything to do with it? My answer is no,” she said.
Referring to “knowledgeable sources,” the Miami Herald reported last week that Miami-Dade prosecutors had launched an investigation into Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy. A spokesman for the agency declined to confirm or deny the existence of the investigation to CNN.
Ben Wilcox, research director at the Integrity Florida Party-Free Party Monitoring Group, says there is no doubt that someone who launched a dark money campaign has touched at least one state senate chair.
“Florida is so loosely regulated about campaign finance that it’s probably legal, but it really isn’t,” Wilcox said. “It suffers the electorate and calls into question the integrity of our choices.”
CNN Amitoj Singh, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, Cybele Mayes-Osterman and Benjamin Naughton contributed to the report.