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Message from the State Attorney

Photo: Katherine Fernandez Rundle Headshot 2

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
State Attorney

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Dear Friend,
Corruption, dishonesty, and unethical behavior by public officials and candidates who hope to earn an elected office all present serious threats to the basic principles and values of public service. Such perceived conduct undermines public confidence in democracy and threatens to erode the rule of law. As a part of my comprehensive approach to fighting crime at all levels, I and my team of lawyers work to gather sufficient evidence to effectively prosecute these cases.
Experience has shown that most people in public service are hardworking, decent, honest, caring people. Inevitably, there are some individuals who will abuse the public trust. I have always prioritized identifying and charging them when the evidence proved appropriate to do so. Over the years we have prosecuted mayors, county and city commissioners, a wide range of candidates for office, and public employees. In fact, my office has prosecuted over 900 cases against public officials and public employees (over 600 of those were for crimes involving their official positions). Several hundred of these cases were against police officers and dozens of individuals, both candidates and elected officials running for office, charged with campaign and election law violations. Such prosecutions are imperative if we truly want our elections and our election campaigns to be fair, honest, and transparent.
These case filing numbers do not include those hundreds of investigations that failed to develop sufficient evidence to prosecute. Remember, many of these types of possible crimes are committed by one or two people and without witnesses, which can prohibit prosecution. Unfortunately, my limited ability to comment on investigative activities undertaken by my office means that many of our efforts will not be seen in the pages of the newspaper or on the evening news. Additionally, there are occasions where the actions of an individual may raise the public’s anger, but the actions are not a violation of the law.
Under state law, we can only charge individuals who have violated Florida’s criminal statutes. Nevertheless, our community should know that such matters are reviewed thoroughly. I wish we could expedite the pace of our investigations and the arrests of individuals who commit corrupt acts, but as prosecutors we are governed by the law, a strict ethical standard and a heavy burden of proof, in order to file charges.
The cases we have prosecuted against public officials and public employees involved a variety of crimes including official misconduct, bribery, election and campaign finance fraud, police corruption and police brutality. Such offenses involve an abuse of the trust and misuse of the authority given to those officials by the community.
The State Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Unit is a specialized division that I created and is comprised of Assistant State Attorneys and investigators specializing in corruption matters. I also created the State Attorney’s Multi-Agency Public Corruption Task Force. The Task Force was created in 2014 and consists of a dedicated group of detectives from local police departments. We also work with our partners from the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General.  We are extremely fortunate to have a law enforcement community that works together and collaborates on every major public corruption case.
The fight against public corruption is a constant effort to maintain the integrity of our governmental system. I remain unwavering in my commitment to ferret out and prosecute public officials and employees who breach the public trust when they lie, cheat, steal, or otherwise break the law.
Thank you and God Bless,



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