ORLANDO, Fla. – An interview transcript released this week in the “ghost candidate” case in Seminole County accuses a Florida state senator of being aware of the plan to get an independent candidate to siphon votes from his opponent.
The transcript’s release was first reported in the Orlando Sentinel, which sued to get the document unsealed.
Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg spoke to state investigators in a jailhouse interview last June under oath and said he was privy to at least one conversation between state Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary), and two of the ghost candidate case suspects, political consultant Eric Foglesong and Seminole County Republican Chair Ben Paris, about putting up an independent candidate.
The conversation happened sometime in late 2019 or early 2020, according to Greenberg.
“I mean, he’s the type of person that knows exactly what’s going on. Exactly what’s going on. They’re not going to leave it to chance,” Greenberg told state investigators. “I mean, they’re running a multi-million dollar operation with his campaign and raising $10, $15 million.”
Foglesong has been charged with felony crimes related to Brodeur’s 2020 election campaign. Investigators said Foglesong orchestrated a straw campaign to place a progressive-sounding independent candidate, Jestine Iannotti, on the ballot. Iannotti, who never actually campaigned and had no prior political experience, is also facing felony charges in the case.
Paris, the former mayor of Longwood, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor count of making a campaign donation in someone else’s name.
Brodeur was running against Democrat Patricia Sigman for Florida Senate District 9, which covered part of Seminole County.
Brodeur won the election by 7,644 votes over Sigman. Iannotti’s 5,787 votes ultimately did not alter the outcome of the race.
Brodeur has previously told the Sentinel that he was not involved in the ghost candidate case and did not know that Paris, who works with him at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, was involved.
Greenberg told investigators that was “absolutely not true.”
“You don’t leave some — something like that to chance,” he said. “And they won by, you know, a very, very thin margin. And those things just don’t happen by chance.”
Greenberg is facing federal prison time after pleading guilty to several crimes, including child sex trafficking and election-related crimes. He has been in the Orange County jail awaiting sentencing, which has been delayed several times as he continues to work with federal prosecutors on several cases.
In conducting the interview with state investigators regarding the ghost candidate case, the questioners told Greenberg that he was not getting anything in exchange for the interview, and if he committed perjury he could face felony charges. Greenberg agreed to those terms, according to the transcript.
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