Law enforcement has captured political consultant gone wrong James Eric Foglesong, and the ghost candidate in Florida Jestine Iannotti. Both were involved in a 2020 campaign scheme and now face charges. Their scheme involved the Florida Senate election and all of that free-wheeling dark money out there.
According to The Florida Sentinel, three more have been apprehended as “ghost candidates:”
‘BREAKING: Florida prosecutors arrest/charge 3 more members of elaborate Republican election fraud scheme behind fake “ghost candidates” aimed at siphoning away Democratic voters:’
‘More: The scheme involved paying random people to sign off on “independent” candidacies that were actually run and financed by GOP operatives. One of the arrested candidates, Jestine Iannotti, was implied to be black in campaign ads. She’s actually white.’
Foglesong paid Iannotti $1,200 to pretend to be a candidate. Then they gave fake names to be the contributors when they filled out the real campaign financial papers. Their reason was that they were trying to “skirt Florida laws on campaign contributions,” according to The Tampa Bay Times.
In addition, Benjamin Richard Paris was charged for playing his part in the illicit drama. Apparently, he paid for one contribution using someone else’s name. This even though he had been the Mayor of Longwood, Florida.
FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass released a statement that read:
‘Lying about campaign donations is unacceptable because it provides an unfair advantage to the candidate. Protecting the integrity of our elections is a top priority in Florida, and that includes making sure candidates follow the laws.’
Iannotti allegedly ran for the state Senate District 9. Her real competitors were “former Republican state Representative Jason Brodeur and Democratic labor attorney Patricia Sigman.” The scammer ran as a “no-party candidate.”
So how did they manage it? Iannotti almost never campaigned. Instead, people found political ads in their snail-mailboxes. These were purchased by a dark-money political group. Legally, this type of organization does not have to show who donated to it,
Brodeur received just 7,644 votes while that ghost candidate stole 5,787 votes. Maybe real candidates tried too hard.
This has been happening in Miami-Dade County, too. A former state Senator Frank Artiles (R) was caught:
‘[R]ecruiting an auto-parts dealer to run as a sham candidate in Miami-Dade’s Senate District 37 race.’
Alexis Pedro Rodriguez played the part of the ghost candidate. Both Rodriguez and Artiles were charged with felonies. The Florida State Attorney in the 18th Judicial Circuit will prosecute Iannotti and Foglesong. They have been given until May 25 to turn themselves over to the Seminole County Jail and pay a $4,500 and $10,000 bond respectively.
No word on the dark money.
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