In Seminole County, Republican Party chairman Benjamin Paris has been accused of making an illegal campaign donation to an alleged spoiler candidate, also known as a “ghost candidate.” While running for office isn’t illegal, Paris’s donation may be.
Paris is the first of three people tied to this scheme to face trial. The alleged ghost candidate, Jestine Iannotti, is expected to testify that she was recruited to run for the District 9 Florida Senate seat. At the time that this occurred, Paris was employed at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce and his boss, Jason Brodeur, was the incumbent state senator.
While Brodeur is not accused of any crimes and has denied any knowledge of this scheme, it was made clear that in the November 2020 election, Brodeur beat his Democratic opponent Patricia Sigman by a slim margin. While Ianotti was thought to have taken some votes from Sigman, the amount was not enough to have an effect on the outcome.
The alleged crime Paris committed was a $200 donation he made to Ianotti’s campaign under his cousin’s name instead of his own. Paris’s cousin has denied giving money to Ianotti and has been subpoenaed as a witness in this trial. Even though Paris pleaded not guilty to this misdemeanor charge, he faces the possibility of a year in jail or a $1000 fine.