FBI investigators will now look into a rash of bogus letters sent to Sarasota voters questioning their citizenship and voter eligibility as well as numerous other letters sent across Florida.
Steven Ibison, special agent in charge of the FBI Tampa Field Office released a statement announcing he authorized the investigating for Central and Southwest Florida. Twenty three counties in Florida have reported these suspicious letters, WPTV reports.
The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections announced a local inquiry Monday evening. It now appears the letters receive in Florida all share the same eagle/American flag letterhead, an envelope postmarked from Seattle and the letter states you have 15 days to respond whereas the form requesting sensitive information states you have 30 days to respond.
Instructions for Spanish speakers contained in the letters provide different phone numbers. The Sarasota letter shows a Port St. Lucie area phone number while the FBI letter released Wednesday shows a Space Coast number. Though one letter obtained by WatchDogWire.com sent to an Orlando voter does have an Orlando area code for its Spanish speakers.
Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said earlier this week that her letters would contain a signature and does not request a response within 15 days.
Republicans are the main ones being targeted, though Democrats and voters without a political affiliation are receving the letters, The Tampa Bay Times reports:
For instance, eight voters have received the letters in Pinellas County. Of the eight, four are Republicans, three are Democrats and one has no party affiliation, according to Nancy Whitlock, an elections administrator for the Supervisor of Elections.
It's not clear what the FBI will be investigating, but since these letters were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, mail fraud, a federal crime, would be a possible charge. An FBI agent picked up four letters sent to Republican voters in Brevard County on Tuesday, according to Lori Smith, the supervisor of elections in that county.
The FBI is asking anyone who receives one of these letters to call their local Supervisor of Elections office to verify the letter and if it's deemed to be a bogus letter, keep it so it can be turned over to authorities and call the Tampa FBI Office at 1-866-838-1153 to report the incident.
The Tampa FBI coverage area includes the following counties: