3 charged in connection with 2020 state Senate race ‘ghost candidate’ controversy

SANFORD, Fla. — Prosecutors said three people were charged Tuesday in connection with a “ghost candidate” controversy during the 2020 election.

The charges are related to the 2020 race for the District 9 Florida Senate seat, which covers parts of Seminole and Volusia counties.

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Republican Jason Brodeur defeated Democrat Patricia Sigman in that race, but a third-party “ghost candidate,” Jestine Iannotti, also played into the defeat.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation into the race in July 2021.

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Iannotti, the independent candidate in that race, and political operatives James Foglesong and Benjamin Paris were all charged in connection with the investigation.

Foglesong surrendered at the Seminole County Jail on Tuesday.

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“Some NPA candidates, commonly referred to as ‘ghost’ candidates, have been used by political parties as a way to close elections or siphon off votes,” State Attorney Archer said. “While not illegal per se, many have questioned the ethics of the practice. However, when that candidate and the partisan political operatives involved violate election finance laws by illegally funding those races and filing false reports, it is the responsibility of government to act.”

Archer said the charges “represent our commitment to ensuring the integrity of Florida’s election process and holding those who violate state campaign laws accountable.”

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Channel 9 reporter Jeff Levkulich will report live updates on this developing story on Channel 9 Eyewitness News at Noon.

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV in 2014.

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.