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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mail fraud in South Florida Senate race? Andrew Korge thinks so -- and accuses Anitere Flores



A Democrat running for a state Senate seat in South Florida alleges someone has -- perhaps illegally -- sent out fraudulent campaign letters to his donors, and Andrew Korge believes his Republican opponent, current state Sen. Anitere Flores, or her supporters are responsible.

Flores, R-Miami, denies the allegations, but Korge said "whether it’s her or her people, it’s irrelevant to me."

Korge and Flores are running for a hotly contested Senate seat that spans western and southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys.

Thanks to the recent redistricting of the state's 40 Senate seats, several Senate candidates have had to re-file their campaigns with the Florida Department of State to run for the correct newly renumbered district.

As part of that switch, candidates are required to notify their past donors and give them the opportunity to get a refund, because the money won't be used for the race it was intended for.

Korge said his campaign sent out such letters after he switched to run against Flores for the new District 39 seat, but he became alarmed when he started to receive response forms that were vastly different than the ones he sent out.

The suspicious letters -- copies of which Korge provided to the Herald/Times -- purport to be from Korge's campaign and are vaguely worded to suggest that Korge isn't running for Senate anymore at all.

They include no identifying marks nor a campaign disclaimer, so it's not possible to know from where they originated or who is responsible for sending them.

But Korge alleges it was Flores or her political backers.

"I think we all know who did this. I only have one opponent here. This is the type of corruption that people are sick of and a big part of what we’re running for," Korge said. "Do I have definitive proof that she did it? No, but I have common sense."

Flores told a Herald/Times reporter "no way, no how" was she involved with sending out the suspicious letters.

"Why in the universe would I spend any resources on doing something that you just told me he’s legally required to do?" she said.

Flores suggested Korge was bitter and "making up stories" because he's in a competitive race. She pointed to how he's changed his mind several times on what office he'd run for.

"A year and a half ago, this was a kid running for safe Democratic seat on the beach. Then he changes to run in Congress. Now he made a decision to run against an incumbent," Flores said. "It sounds to me that things just aren’t going his way, because he’s used to getting support from Democratic circles."

Korge is the son of Hillary Clinton donor and prominent Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge. Andrew Korge did contemplate a run for Congress for about a month earlier this year but never filed, and because of the state Senate redistricting, the map of district lines changed, affecting where Korge -- and a slew of other candidates statewide -- would choose to run.

Korge provided three examples of what he described as fraudulent letters that were returned to his campaign, including one signed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe requesting a return of a $1,000 donation he gave.

Here's another example of the alleged fake letter: (Click to enlarge)


In contrast, the letter Korge said he sent to his supporters is more personalized to explain the special circumstance created by the redistricting. A stock copy Korge provided includes a disclaimer noting it was paid for by his campaign: Download Contribution return letter.

With it, he sent a form he said was printed directly from the Department of State's website for his donors to sign and send back. Here's an example he provided: (Click to enlarge)


Korge wants authorities to investigate the suspect letters as an act of mail fraud. He said on Friday he called two state attorney's offices in South Florida and the United States Postal Inspection Service. He said he also planned to file a police report.

Flores said Korge has his own issues to answer for in the meantime. She alleged that he's failed to return donations to previous supporters who asked for their money back after he entered the race against her.

"He’s legally required to send out a letter," she said. "I have friends who supported him who did ask for their money back because they're my friends."

Korge said: "Since there was fraud committed, I held back on sending checks, but they're in the mail now."

Because of redistricting, all 40 Senate seats will be on the November ballot, but the District 39 seat is one of the more competitive races. It leans Democratic and Hispanic, giving both Korge and Flores a chance at the seat. Independent Sheila Lucas George has also filed in the race.

[Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2016 2:37pm]


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