Seminole County

Third-party ghost candidate in local Senate race the focus of FDLE investigation

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into allegations associated with the recent Senate District 9 election that covers Seminole and part of Volusia counties.

In that race, Republican Jason Brodeur defeated Democrat Patricia Sigman, but a third-party ghost candidate also played into that defeat, which may be the focus of the FDLE investigation.

Channel 9′s Jeff Levkulich spoke exclusively with Sigman about the latest developments in her race. She said she doesn’t know if it would have changed the outcome of her race, as she lost by 7,600 votes -- more than the non-party affiliated candidate received.

READ: Jason Brodeur declares victory after Patricia Sigman concedes from State Senate District 9 race

She believes there was a coordinated statewide dark money scheme designed to interfere in three statewide senate races, including her own.

Even before the race was called, declaring Brodeur the winner over Sigman in the 9th District Senate race, questions arose over the NPA candidate Jestine Iannotti, a ghost candidate who didn’t campaign but garnered almost 5,800 votes in the hotly contested race.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in mailers were sent out in her name, along with a stock photo image.

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Sigman said the evidence is mounting that something was not right. The current case playing out against former Sen. Frank Artilles in Miami, in which votes were siphoned off from the Democratic candidate by a ghost NPA candidate, may be the key.

She said the fliers in all three senate races under scrutiny were practically identical. And in each race, the Democratic candidate lost.

“It’s really clear that there was this coordinated statewide dark money scheme that was designed to what it appears interfere in three state senate races,” Sigman said.

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On Monday, the FDLE told Eyewitness News that it is reviewing allegations associated with the recent Senate District 9 race, and that they are working with State Attorney Phil Archer’s office. They would not say what the specific allegations are.

Archer’s office would not confirm or deny the existence of the ongoing investigation and directed Channel 9 back to the FDLE.

Sigman said while she hasn’t been contacted by the FDLE, the investigation is a good thing.

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“I’m glad to see they are looking at it,” she said. “I think it’s really important for voters to have integrity in the elections. It’s important for all of us, for the democracy. So this is about election integrity. And those of us who believe in election integrity want to make sure voters aren’t deceived, and this is what it is all about.”

Sigman said focusing on the ghost party candidate is not the key, but rather finding out where the hundreds of thousands of dollars came from and who was behind it.

Channel 9 also asked Brodeur for an interview, but he did not respond back.

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To be clear, there’s no indication Brodeur is the subject of any investigation.

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich,

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

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.