An alleged Miami-Dade absentee ballot broker hired by Florida Governor Rick Scott's 2010 campaign has refused to explain what services she performed during the race, calling the $5,000 payment a "gift."
“Anybody can give me a gift of $5,000,” Emilina Llanes told the Miami Herald. “It’s nobody’s business who gave them to me.”
But the paper says Llanes later denied the payment altogether: “I don’t know anything about those $5,000,” she said. “It’s too much money. With that money I can pay off half of my house. I haven’t received anything.”
The payment, however, was recorded publicly in Scott's campaign finance report, which noted $5,000 went to the 74-year-old Hialeah resident for "contract labor."
The campaign finance records indicate only that Llanes was paid by Scott's campaign, provide no further specifics as to her services, and do not constitute evidence of any wrong-doing.
But it is curious that Scott, who called his recent controversial bid to purge the state's voter rolls a protection of "fair" elections and has moved to limit voter registration and early voting hours, hired an alleged boletera. Though tasked with legally helping typically elderly voters fill out or mail their ballots, the "shady" world of such activists includes the opportunity to sway or bribe voters, change ballot selections, and forge signatures -- activities exposed by the arrests of two Hialeah boleteros during the county's August primary. Some local candidates said they were approached by boleteros who offered to guarantee votes for money.
One of those arrested, Sergio "El Tio" Robaina, is said to have been in a "turf war" with Llanes over a Hialeah public housing building for seniors. The complex was the site of a strange event last year during which Llanes complained of chest pains after discovering she was being filmed visiting the apartments door-to-door. Robaina is accused of having filled out two ballots with his own choices and not those of the voters, an elderly woman with dementia and her son.
According to the Herald, Llanes has previously worked for multiple local Republican campaigns dating back to 2000, including those of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo and state legislators Alex Morales, Eddy González and René García.
Scott's former campaign manager Susie Wiles told the Tampa Bay Times last week she was checking into why Llanes was paid by the campaign, but that generally the "campaign hired contractors in various counties for almost exclusively get out the vote activities. They interacted with seniors and other groups to stress the importance of voting and to secure support for candidate Rick Scott at the time."
Absentee votes in Miami-Dade overwhelmingly favored Scott despite his opponent Alex Sink winning election day balloting, according to Miami New Times. The governor wound up winning the election by about one percentage point.