Two of Florida’s most progressive state legislators, Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, have joined fellow Democratic legislators, Angie Nixon and Tavaris McCurdy, to pen a letter to the Florida Public Service Commission asking them to conduct an audit into Florida Power & Light (FPL) “to determine whether ratepayer money was used, directly or indirectly, to finance the fake candidate schemes,” or "ghost candidates."
According to several tweets, Rep. Eskamani alleges that FPL has funded “fake” candidates throughout the state in past election cycles.
Rep. Eskamani contends the “FPL’s apparent intentional lack of transparency, along w/potential corporate and & political corruption, has raised serious concerns around the state” needs to be looked into to assure Floridians that the power company isn’t raising rates on customers to cover the costs of their unethical corporate behavior.”
While Reps. Eskamani, Smith, Nixon, and other Democrats allege that FPL helped fund “ghost candidates” in three South Florida races during the 2020 presidential election, all but saying that the Republican Party is the only political party allegedly benefitting from the use of “ghost” or “Write-In” candidates, the dirty little secret is that “Write-In” candidates are used by those Republicans and Democrats.
The Public Service Commissioner has since brushed off the letter, stating in a letter from the board’s chairman, Andrew G. Fay, that “categorical assurances” to the legislators were made, and that an audit was already in place.
“These audits are precisely focused on the heart of your concerns — to detect any use of ratepayer funds that do not reasonably relate to the provision of service by a regulated utility company in Florida,” stated Fay regarding the audit already put in place to address FPL’s request for a rate increase last March.
Both at the state and federal levels, these “Write-In” candidates are used to help tip the scale in many primary and general elections by usually targeting one or two specific candidates.
The goal is for the “ghost candidate” to chip away enough votes from the strongest candidate in any respective primary, or opposing nominee in a general election.
“Ghost” candidates have played spoiler roles in many past races, but for the most part, really don’t cause much damage.
Over the past few elections, there are quite a few of these ghostly candidates, who file as Write-ins instead of filing in either the Republican or Democratic Parties.
Why is that?
Reps. Guillermo Smith, McCurdy, Eskamani, and others, point to several NPA candidates who filed to run in very competitive, Democratic-held state legislative seats and wound up helping the Republicans in the race win.
The most contentious of the races was State Senate District 37, where now-Sen. Ileana Garcia (R) defeated incumbent Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (D) by the slimmest of margins. NPA candidate Alex Rodriguez played a spoiler in this race, pulling a significant amount of votes away from then-Sen. Rodriguez.
Both political parties appear to play the same election day chess game. It’s not just Republicans as Democrats contend.
Here are is a list we populated of other 2022 races, both state and federal races in Florida, that had a “ghost candidate” or NPA on the ballot.
We bold-texted which party, the candidate the ghost candidate appears to have helped
George Buck (R)
Charlie Crist (D)
Jacob Curnow (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Anna Paulina Luna (R)
Bill Wilson (R)
Darren Soto (D)
Clay Hill (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Val Demings (D)
Vennia Francois (R)
Sufiyah Yasmin (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Lois Frankel (D)
Laura Loomer (R)
Piotr Blass (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Sylvia Caravetta (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)
Demetrius Fugate (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Jeff Olson (WRI) )— DEMOCRATIC
Carla Spalding (R)
Frederica Wilson (D)
Lavon Spicer (R)
Howard Knepper (WRI) )— DEMOCRATIC
Christine Olivo (NPA) )— DEMOCRATIC
Hector Rivera (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Donna Shalala (D)
Maria Elvira Salazar (R)
Frank Polo (WRI) — REPUBLICAN
Scott Plakon (R)
Tracey Kagan (D)
Juan Rodriguez (NPA) — DEMOCRATIC
Randy Fine (R)
Phill Moore (D)
Thomas Unger (WRI) — DEMOCRATIC
Kaylee Tuck (R)
Linda Tripp (D)
Jacob Hensley (WRI) — REPUBLICAN
Susan Vlades (D)
Angel Urbina Copa (R)
Lauire Rodriguez-Parson (NPA) — REPUBLICAN
Ana Maria Rodriguez (R)
Celso Alfonso (NPA) —REPUBLICAN
Javier Fernandez (D)
Daniel Horton-Diaz (D)