Report Says Senator Focus of Campaign Funds Probe Official Allegedly Failed to Report Some Contributions

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- State officials are reviewing whether state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla broke Florida election laws of failing to report thousands in campaign contributions and accepting cash donations in excess of state election guidelines, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Investigators who scrutinized the Miami Republican's bank records found evidence of 320 possible violations of state law during his successful race for the Senate, according to a report obtained Friday by The Miami Herald.

The report was presented to the Florida Elections Commission during a two-day meeting in Orlando this week. The commission accepted those findings, the Herald reported, citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the commission's action.

Republican activist Andrew Grigsby filed the formal complaint that triggered the investigation.

"It does not please me that one of our represented elected officials would show such strong disregard for our campaign finance laws," Grigsby said. "I'm a Republican first and foremost. This was not an easy thing to do, but if we can't police our own then we don't have the right to hold our candidates out as above and better than others."

No one was available for comment at the Florida Elections Commission.

The investigation began in January, less than a month after Diaz de la Portilla was elected to the Senate seat vacated by Al Gutman, a fellow Republican who was indicted on charges of Medicare fraud. Gutman entered a guilty plea and was sentenced last week to five years in prison.

Diaz de la Portilla's main challenger, former state Rep. Carlos Valdes, questioned where Diaz de la Portilla got the money to pay for attack ads that appeared on WLTV-Univision 23. The ad campaign cost $23,715.

The commission's report notes that the senator failed to report $158,195 in contributions during his campaign. …