SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — After a months-long investigation, prosecutors on Friday found the head of a political action committee involved in an alleged ghost candidate scheme will not face charges.
In a statement, State Attorney Phil Archer said the investigation into the actions of Stephen Jones, head of the political action committee Floridians for Equality and Justice, did not find any evidence that jones broke the law.
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Prosecutors announce findings in probe of Floridians For Equality And Justice campaign finance activity in the 2020 Florida SD9 election. SA Archer calls for end of "dark money" and changes to campaign laws. Summary, disposition letter, and statement at: https://t.co/5vkopKFDTy pic.twitter.com/TLzmXVGKGl— State Attorney 18th Circuit FL (@SA18PIO) January 27, 2023
Read: 3 charged in connection with 2020 state Senate race ‘ghost candidate’ controversy
In July 2021, Archer wrote a letter to the FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, requesting an investigation into the 2020 No Party Affiliation candidate for the Florida Senate in District 9.
Ultimately that investigation led to charges being filed against three people with ties to a “ghost candidate” in that race.
Read: Third-party ghost candidate in local Senate race the focus of FDLE investigation
In a six-page letter to FDLE, the State Attorney said current Florida law has a loophole that allows sources of financial contributions to political committees not to be reported.
At the same time, while Archer’s office found the activities of FFEAJ and Jones troubling, none violated existing Florida Statutes.
READ: Jason Brodeur declares victory after Patricia Sigman concedes from State Senate District 9 race
“A tremendous amount of money was raised and spent for the express purpose of advocating for the election of one candidate, and the defeat of another, in the 2020 Florida State Senate District 9 primary election,” the letter said.
It goes on to say that FFEAJ and its chairperson were not legally required to report any financial activity beyond when FFEAJ was officially recognized as a political committee.
Investigators also said the discrepancies investigators did find could be “simple clerical errors.”
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