Residents of Coral Gables are questioning the conduct of Police Chief Ed Hudak as the city’s commission election heats up. Multiple residents have reported receiving calls from Chief Hudak, warning them not to vote for commission candidate Ariel Fernandez in Group 5, who is running against attorney Alex Bucelo, who has been endorsed by Mayor Vince Lago. The violation was first reported in an article posted on Politico Cordadito.
Misdemeanor of the First Degree
If true, Chief Hudak may have violated Florida State Statue 104.31- Political activities of state, county, and municipal officers and employees. According to the statute, “Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” A chief of police associated with pressuring residents to vote for a certain candidate over another is a blemish on a city that has had its fair share of possible ethics violations in recent days. It was just last month that The Gables Beacon reported that Coral Gables Mayor, Vince Lago, may have committed perjury.
Group V Election – Ariel Fernandez / Alex Bucelo
The commission seat that Hudak seems most concerned with is Group V. This group has attorney Alex Bucelo facing The Gables Insider editor, Ariel Fernandez. Both candidates have run for commission before. Looking back in history, it’s strange that Hudak is not pressuring residents to vote for Fernandez. Over eight years ago Fernandez started a petition to keep Hudak as Chief of Police. One can only assume Hudak is not a fan of The Gables Insider. Recent articles criticizing hefty raises for the top command staff, along with being outspoken on delays of crime reports from the department may be to blame for the dislike.
University of Miami law Professor Anthony Alfieri, Center for Ethics and Public Service Director believes there may be enough to at least open an inquiry. At this time it remains uncertain whether the city attorney or police internal affairs will investigate the potential ethics violation.
The statute explicitly prohibits any officer or employee of the state, county, or municipality from using their official authority to interfere with an election, nomination of office, or to coerce or influence another person’s vote, ultimately affecting the outcome of the election. The alleged breach of this statute raises significant concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and the proper use of authority by public officials.