Watchdog group reveals how Florida’s largest utility company provided dark money to promote “ghost candidates,” sowing voter confusion

In a report investigating so-called “ghost candidates” that aim to confuse voters and siphon off votes, Ben Wilcox, writing for the Florida Center for Government Accountability, examined three state senate races in 2020 in which these candidates succeeded in drawing votes in ways that may constitute criminal fraud. The effort was funded by Florida’s largest utility company, Florida Power and Light. Wilcox’s research, supported with a grant from the Fund, showed the scheme worked as intended in at least one 2020 race in which the incumbent Democratic senator lost to his Republican challenger by a little over 30 votes. The ghost candidate in the race, with the same last name as the Democratic candidate, received more than 6,000 votes. The ghost candidate did no campaigning for the seat but benefitted from ads run by an outside political committee to spread disinformation and create confusion.