Matt Gaetz Tied To Florida Ghost Candidate Scandal, Report Says

Matt Gaetz stares off camera.
Gettyimages | Samuel Corum
US Politics

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is tied to a ghost candidate scandal in the Sunshine State, The New York Times reported.

According to the publication, Gaetz spoke with prominent Florida lobbyist Chris Dorworth about running a ghost candidate in the state's 2020 Senate race to take votes away from an opponent of one of their allies, Jason T. Brodeur.

The probe of the alleged sham candidate is part of the Justice Department inquiry into Gaetz's possible link to a purported sex trafficking ring.

According to two people familiar with the inquiry, the ghost candidate aspect of the probe is still in its early stages.

Ghost Candidates Are Generally Legal

According to The New York Times, running ghost candidates is generally legal. However, the process can still fall into illicit activity. For example, paying such candidates under the table is usually considered to be a violation of campaign finance laws.

The probe into Gaetz is allegedly examining whether Iannotti, who had no party affiliation and did little campaigning, was paid by Gaetz and Dorworth to help Brodeur.

Speaking to The New York Times, Brodeur denied knowledge of fliers promoting Iannotti, which contained a stock photo of a Black woman.

Gaetz did not provide a comment to the publication.

Third-Party Candidates Have Helped Republicans Win In Florida

Third-party candidates have helped pull Republicans over the finish line in Florida before.

Per The New York Times, two senate races last year raised alarm bells for some when unknown third-party candidates help the GOP maintain control of the Florida Senate.

"In one of the Miami races, which was decided by 32 votes, an accused ghost candidate and a campaign backer have been indicted on campaign finance charges."

As reported by WWNY-TV, incumbent Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez was defeated by his GOP opponent.

The Ghost Candidate Appears To Have Been Funded By Dark Money

Local 10 News reported that Iannotti appears to have received dark money that was also funneled to other ghost candidates: Celso Alfonso and Alex Rodríguez.

"The resulting campaign flyers looked identical in graphics, but for the three candidates’ names, making the no-party candidates appealing to democratic voters that they were meant to confuse," the outlet noted.

According to Local 10 News, the money trail for all three candidates leads to resigned Florida Senator Frank Artiles, who was ultimately arrested and had his home raided.

 

Gaetz Is Facing Sex Trafficking Allegations

Matt Gaetz speaks in Congress.
Gettyimages | Pool

Whether the DOJ probe expands to include potential campaign finance violations, it is currently focused on whether Gaetz is linked to a purported sex trafficking ring.

The inquiry has fueled allegations against Gaetz that some have pushed back on. Notably, journalist Glenn Greenwald underlined that there is currently no evidence to support the accusations against the congressman as the investigation is still open.

As The Inquisitr reported, Gaetz said he and his family are being extorted by a former DOJ official for $25 million.