ICYMI: Broward School Board Candidate Rod Velez Failed To Petition For Right To Run For Office Following Felony Conviction

Rod Velez

Broward School Board candidate Rod Velez garnered the most votes last Tuesday but his victory may be short lived. As REDBROWARD reported last month, Velez, a convicted felon, never had his right to hold office restored by a State clemency board. Now, some residents contemplate legal action to keep Velez from taking office later this month.

Our original report is below.

Candidate Rod Velez may never serve on the Broward School Board after failing to petition for restoration of his right to hold office. In December 1994, Velez was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after witnesses said he pistol-whipped a man inside a Hollywood home. Police later found the gun inside Velez’ car. Velez would later plead guilty to a lesser felony charge.

In an elections fraud complaint filed with the State Of Florida, candidate Marie Murray Martin alleges Rod Velez failed to get his civil rights restored or received special permission from a clemency board. The complaint was filed in August 2022.

In 2018, Velez had his right to vote restored after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment. However, new rules from the State of Florida say restoration of right to hold office must be approved by a clemency board.

A review of the clemency board website shows no record of Rod Velez seeking a hearing.

In June, Velez told the Sun-Sentinel that the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) approved his candidacy.

“That was one of my concerns. If I can’t serve, I’m not going to waste my time,” Velez said. “But because it’s an elected position, I’m allowed to.”

But a letter obtained by REDBROWARD from a Broward SOE attorney casts doubt on Velez’ claim.

A letter from Attorney Devona A. Reynolds Perez to Marie Murray Martin states, “Mr. [Joe] Scott recognizes you may have valid concerns regarding Mr. Velez’ candidacy; however, Mr. Scott’s role as the qualifying officer is strictly ministerial in nature.” The attorney explicitly stated Scott is not allowed to determine the legitimacy of Velez’ candidacy. The Broward SOE attorney recommended Murray Martin consult an attorney.

Even the Sun-Sentinel editorial, which endorsed Velez, questions whether he can legally hold the office.

In a letter to Marie Murray Martin, Sun-Sentinel Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet wrote, “Hello. I am asking whether you have done any research as to the legality of Mr. Velez’s candidacy. The right to run for office must be restored by clemency petition, which to my knowledge has not been completed. Amendment 4 restored only the right to vote. Any thoughts you have on this are greatly appreciated.”

Oops!

If Velez were to win the November election, a lengthy legal battle would ensue.

Rod Velez did not respond to our request for comment.

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