Tampa FBI Office to Investigate Fraudulent Letters to Likely Voters
TAMPA -- Tampa's FBI field office announced today that it will also look into letters sent to eligible voters informing them, incorrectly, that their citizenship has come under question.
The Florida Division of Elections and state law enforcement officials are also investigating reports from at least 24 counties that voters have received the letters, which arrived in envelopes with Seattle, Washington postmarks.
Here's the FBI release:
Statement from the Tampa FBI Field Office regarding suspected fraudulent Florida County Supervisor of Elections letters being sent to voters in Central and Southwest Florida:
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Field Office, Steven E. Ibison, has authorized the initiation of an investigation into reports of fraudulent letters sent to voters residing in Central and Southwest Florida. The letters are allegedly masked as being generated from several county Supervisor of Election Offices throughout our region which includes 18 counties (see list below).
If anyone within these counties should receive a suspect letter, they should contact their local county Supervisor of Elections Office to verify the letter. If the letter is determined not to be official, the individual should then maintain possession of the letter and call the Tampa FBI Office at (toll free) 1-866-838-1153 to officially report the matter.
The Tampa field office covers Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Hernando in Tampa Bay, as well as Polk, Orange, Osceola, Sarasota, Seminole, Brevard, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte, Lee, Glades, Hendry and Collier counties. Florida's Division of Elections said today that 28 counties have now reported receiving the letters. They are: Bay, Brevard, Broward, Collier, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia.
The letters are written to make it look like they came from the recipient's local supervisor of elections office. The envelopes carry a similar notation. But they are not official letters and supervisors are alerting residents of the hoax.
Although the majority of the voters receiving the letters are Republicans, some Democrats and people with no party affiliations are also getting the letters. For instance, eight voters have received the letters in Pinellas County. Of the eight, four are Republicans, three are Democrats and one has no party affiliation, according to Nancy Whitlock, an elections administrator for the Supervisor of Elections.
It's not clear what the FBI will be investigating, but since these letters were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, mail fraud, a federal crime, would be a possible charge. An FBI agent picked up four letters sent to Republican voters in Brevard County on Tuesday, according to Lori Smith, the supervisor of elections in that county.