October 19, 2021, FLCGA Research Assistant CD Davidson-Hiers

The Florida Center for Government Accountability helped The Orlando Sentinel obtain public records that traced the path of dark money’s influence on key state Senate races last year.

Over the summer, the Sentinel detailed the path of a $550,000 donation to a pair of political committees that supported independent candidates who were running in three key Senate races: SD 9 in Central Florida, SD 37 and SD 39 in South Florida.

The records the FLCGA helped obtain and analyze suggested the money is tied to politicos in Alabama, the Sentinel reported.

“It was extremely difficult to unmask this trail of records, which does not appear to be unintentional,” Michael Barfield told the Sentinel. Barfield is the FLCGA’s director of public access.

The more than half a million dollars went to funding nearly identical mailers aimed at persuading Democratic-leaning voters to vote for the independent candidates, the Sentinel wrote. All three races were won by the Republican candidates.

Former Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles has since been charged as one of two people arrested in connection with one of the races, the Sentinel wrote. Artiles was accused of bribing one of the independents to run, according to the Sentinel story.

Read the Orlando Sentinel story here.