Marie Murray Martin wants a judge to force Broward School candidate Rod Velez to prove he has the right to hold public office. In a document filed Monday in Broward County Circuit Court, Martin wrote, “Without proof of clemency aka civil rights [Velez] should not be permitted to…hold office nor be sworn in on November 22, 2022.” Last week, Velez defeated Martin in the race for the District 1 seat.
But before the election, questions were raised whether Velez, a convicted felon, could hold public 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 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.”
In August 2022, Martin filed an official complaint with the State of Florida.
Yesterday, Velez shared an NPR article claiming Governor Ron DeSantis and the cabinet were not opposed to restoring rights of felons.
Last week, Velez allegedly told the Sun-Sentinel that he would meet Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis.
After REDBROWARD confirmed no meeting was scheduled, Velez claimed the Sun-Sentinel misunderstood his remarks. Yesterday, the Sun-Sentinel reported Velez was “unclear” about the meeting with Governor DeSantis.