Professional liars and cheaters: Florida ghost candidates

The Republicans are Professional Cheaters

Sources: Miami Herald (9/9/22)

As Elie Mystal recently wrote, Karl Rove is a “professional liar” and he is good at it.  It would be fair to say that the entire Republican Party is made up of professional liars and cheaters and they are for the most part good at it.  The criminal “justice” system in this country, however, seems incapable of holding the liars and the cheaters accountable.

The effort to hold on to power despite the 2020 election, included a number of separate operations.  There was the “fake elector” operation, the violent attack on the capitol operation, and as we are learning, the ghost candidate operation.  This operation involved inserting candidates into the election process who were not real candidates, who had no intention of occupying the position they were running for.  Their presence in the race, however, was intended to split the vote in such a way as to benefit Republicans.

A state ethics panel in Florida in early September 2022, recommended that such a no-party candidate be fined a $250 for “financial disclosure violations.”  This makes him the third ghost candidate state authorities reprimanded in connection to key state Florida Senate races in 202

Celso Alfoso, the ghost candidate, was reprimanded for the financial disclosure violations but there was no mention of the “role played by former Miami state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican who walked Alfonso through the entire election process, including giving him the campaign filing paperwork to fill out and uploading campaign finance reports.” 

So, the real crime, the real lie, the real cheating, the insertion of a non-candidate was not even taken into consideration.

In a separate criminal investigation in Miami, prosecutors alleged that Sen. Artiles recruited and paid an auto-parts dealer, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez, nearly $45,000 to run as a candidate in Senate District 37.   Artiles is facing felony charges in connection to that Senate District 37 race. 

The Florida Commission on Ethics recommended in October 2021 that Rodriguez, the fake candidate, be fined $20,000, but this recommendation  requires action by Gov. DeSantis which is unlikely. 

In May of 2022, criminal charges were announced against a Republican political consultant who was a sham candidate who ran in Central Florida Senate District 9.  The Chairman of the Seminole County Republican Party was convicted of charges related to that case.

The widening political ghost candidate scandal involves two Miami-Dade state Senate races and dark money groups that paid to promote a sham candidate to benefit Republicans. 


Orlando Sentinel

  • GOP Chairman Ben Paris from Seminole County is facing criminal charges in a vote-siphoning scheme.  He asked Jestine Iannotti to run for the Florida Senate in 2020.
  • Iannotti testified against Paris.
  • Iannotti has no political experience, did not campaign, and she was promoted as a progressive in an advertising blitz intended to draw votes away from her Democratic opponent.
  • Paris is facing a misdemeanor charge for arranging to use his cousin’s name on Iannotti’s campaign contribution reports.
  • Paris had asked his cousin to contribute to Iannotti’s campaign since Paris had reached the state-imposed contribution limit. 

Orlando Sentinel

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