Rep. John Patrick Julien: Florida Democratic Leaders Expect Haitians to Be Their Slaves
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“I am insulted,” says an indignant Rep. John Patrick Julien, D-North Miami Beach, in a sit-down interview with Sunshine State News. “My party leadership expects that I, as a black person and someone whose family fled a dictatorship, came to this land of democracy and freedom so I could be a slave to them? I’m insulted that they would expect that of me.”
His words echo those of a political consultant from one of Florida’s major bipartisan consulting firms, who weeks ago suggested to Sunshine State News that Haitian-born state legislators might be the victims of a “political ethnic cleansing" by state Democratic Party officials in retaliation for their voting records in favor of businesses and school choice.
Julien lost his House seat in one of the state’s most hotly contested primaries, by a mere 13 votes, to Rep. Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens. Both Julien and Watson were incumbents fighting for the same Florida House seat, where they both ended up from recent legislative redistricting. Julien alleges that Watson made use of “boleteros,” or ballot-brokers, to collect fraudulent or manipulated absentee ballots from at least 16 senior citizens. Julien won most of the Election Day and early voting ballots, but Watson pulled in a majority of the absentees.
“Upon information and belief, many of the resident voters of the respective medical facilities in precincts 123 and 130 did not actually cast their own absentee ballots and/or had their right to vote stolen from them through fraud and deceit,” according to Julien’s lawsuit.
Julien and his attorney, former Republican Rep. J.C. Planas of Westchester, were in Tallahassee this week for a series of hearings before Judge Charles Francis of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. On Tuesday, Francis threw out six absentee ballots from two precincts on the grounds that their signatures did not match those on file with the Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections office. Planas argues that all of the absentees of those two precincts, and possibly of the entire race, should be tossed out as well.
“Our argument is that even though the court has only found six invalid ballots so far, they’re in two different precincts, and we believe that by the testimonial evidence of others we will show by a preponderance of evidence that there was some sort of shenanigans with absentee ballots; and because of this we believe that, should the court look at the other precincts, it will find more wrongdoing,” Planas told Sunshine State News. “I have several people from two nursing homes who have said to me they didn’t vote, even though their vote is being counted.
“We believe that the law requires that if there is a taint of some ballots, the entire lot must be thrown out, whether all the absentee ballots of these two precincts or of the entire race. Either way, Representative Julien wins,” Planas said.
Julien’s allegations implicate one of the most controversial players in the South Florida electoral scene: the boleteros. Marketing themselves as “independent political consultants,” these “ballot-brokers” sell their services to various campaigns, to the tune of thousands of dollars, in order to conduct get-out-the-vote drives in their clients’ favor. Both Republicans and Democrats make use of them, and are increasingly coming under fire for doing so.
Watson’s campaign paid one Carline Paul $1,000 to collect ballots on her behalf; she paid another $5,000 to one Noucelia Josna, whose own business card identifies her as “The Queen of Absentee Ballots.”
“I was approached by Josna, and I turned her down,” Julien told Sunshine State News. “I don’t do that; I campaign legitimately. If you’re hiring a ballot-broker you know exactly what they’re doing. To hire these people is to submit to the local political corruption.”
Julien joins his colleagues Mack Bernard of West Palm Beach and Daphne Campbell of Miami, who are also from Haiti, in being among the most conservative members of the Florida Legislature’s Democratic caucus. All three ran with the endorsement of the state’s business community, and Julien and Campbell even received the endorsement of Florida Right-to-Life. Julien, Bernard, and Campbell are strong supporters of more school choice and private school vouchers.
Bernard is contesting his own primary defeat in the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal, where he is also being represented by Planas. All three legislators were at least tacitly opposed by their party’s establishment, though Campbell ended up winning her primary and is expected to cruise to an easy general election victory in November.
Julien suggested to the News that the Florida Democratic Party was turning a blind eye to intra-party primary election fraud because of his and his colleagues’ votes in favor of small businesses, school choice, and the right to life of the unborn.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re with the party 90 percent of the time; they demand 100 percent,” he said. “I know, I have spoken to other Haitian-born [public officials], and they agree: the party has never supported them either.”
He said his party is not living up to its commitment to cultural diversity, at least not where its Haitian bloc is concerned.
"What folks refuse to understand is that Haitians are God-fearing, anti-government handout, distrustful of government, family-oriented, believers in educational freedom, and anti-abortion,” he told Sunshine State News. “And yet we are registered Democrats. In other words, Haitians are like Cubans, only in a different party."
Planas told the News that if the courts do not resolve this issue by the Nov. 6 election, they will lose jurisdiction over the matter and it will have to be taken up within the Florida House of Representatives. He said the House will probably only decline to seat Watson if it determines she participated in electoral fraud, or knew about it and did nothing to stop it.
Both Paul and Josna were subpoenaed by Planas for depositions; neither showed up. An arrest order has been issued for Josna, while Paul appeared in court Wednesday morning for questioning.
Julien said their refusal to be deposed showed that the ballot-brokers, and quite probably Barbara Watson herself, know there was something fishy going on.
“It took fraud to get Watson over the finish line,” Julien charged. “You [i.e., Watson] don’t have any money, you’re not mailing out anything, and you’re not knocking on doors to meet with your constituents. You concentrate your limited amount of resources on these ballot-brokers, and when we try to subpoena those people -- who you paid -- and not one of them shows up, that tells you that there’s something wrong with the people you hired.”
“You know when you turn on the light in the kitchen, and the cockroaches all scatter?” Planas asks. “That’s exactly what this is.”
Reach Eric Giunta at email@example.com or at (954) 235-9116.