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Three are charged in a ghost candidate scheme in Seminole County

A stuffed rabbit sitting on a desk
Wilfredo Lee
Stuffed and ceramic animals are shown on the desk of Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur after a legislative session, April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Two political operatives and an independent candidate who opponents say hardly campaigned and only entered a state Senate race in central Florida in 2020 to siphon off votes from a Democrat were criminally charged on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Prosecutors filed election finance charges against the candidate, Jestine Iannotti, as well as Seminole County GOP chairman Ben Paris and political consultant James “Eric” Foglesong in Seminole County, a suburb of Orlando. Paris works for the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, which is led by Republican Sen. Brodeur.

Jestine Iannotti is accused of illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation for her campaign.

Three people including a Seminole County Chamber executive are facing campaign finance charges in connection with a so-called “ghost candidate” in the 2020 race for Senate District 9.

Jestine Iannotti of Winter Springs was the ghost candidate, an independent who in this case could siphon away Democratic votes. State investigators found that political operative Eric Foglesong of Winter Park worked closely with her.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Iannotti illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation from Foglesong for her campaign. 

Authorities say the two also falsely used the names of other individuals as contributors. Those two face felony charges.

Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Republican, won the election. 

Brodeur’s employee at the Seminole chamber, Vice President of Operations Benjamin Paris, is being served with a court summons for a misdemeanor. He is accused of making a campaign contribution using someone else’s name. 

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Amy Green