Mildred Fernandez sat down for a one on one, no holds barred interview with FOX35, just a week after being released from jail. The former Orange CountyCommissioner tells FOX 35's Mike Synan the 22 months she spent was bothenlightening and difficult.
"I think that the most hurtful thing in this process was the separation ofmy family. That was terrible"
She pleaded guilty to 8 counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions andnot reporting them, but Fernandez did not necessarily think there should havebeen any charges in the first place.
"I think it was all politics. It's all politics. I was a threat in termsof winning. I had, I had some assets that maybe some other candidates did nothave."
She believes she was taken down by the area elite, but refused to name anynames saying "the past is in the past". Fernandez was defiant attimes when asked about accepting envelopes with cash and checks. She tells MikeSynan she never opened those envelopes.
"It's different when you ask me how much I regret it. I neverthought about that because candidates receive envelopes during theircampaign trail."
When asked about taking fullresponsibility for signing off on the campaign financereports, Fernandez responded, "I always signed on the campaign reports, but rememberthat campaign reports can be amended, and there's no limit for that. So, ifsomething happens, I had a CPA, and the CPA was very strict. I only visited hisoffice just to sign those campaign reports."
She added, "No, I never would say I didn't wantto [take responsibility]. I will. But look at the record of all candidates.They always have to make amendments to their reports. Money's lost, the personthat was adding the amounts missed something. That's what amendments arefor."
Fernandez says her prison time gave her an inspiration for what to donext. She says she met countless women while incarcerated that did not deserveto be there and are costing the taxpayers millions of dollars. She isinterested in advocating for treatment for women caught with prescriptiondrugs.
Fernandez says they can sometimes get 35 years for just being inpossession of pill bottles. She believes it is destroying families in Florida. Most of the time, Fernandez feels these women need rehab, and not prison time.