First of three trials in alleged ghost candidate scheme begins (includes video story)

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.

Amanda Milian is a senior at Florida International University majoring in Digital Broadcasting. She enjoys educating the future broadcasters of America, watching college football and baseball and expanding her knowledge in the realm of communications and broadcasting. Amanda hopes to someday be an anchor on Good Morning America and looks forward to the path ahead of her in broadcast journalism.

Daisy is majoring in Broadcast Media and Communications and will be graduating in December. She works at WPLG as a floor director and aspires to be a reporter once she graduates.