ORLANDO, Fla. — A U.S. congresswoman is asking the Justice Department to investigate Florida Power & Light over allegations that the utility used “dark money” to disguise sources of political funding and influence the Florida elections, as well as other allegations documented recently. the news.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday that recent Florida news reports have “exposed apparent corruption, influence peddling and breaches of public trust. by Florida’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light and its officers.
“Numerous public corruption scandals involving electric utilities across the country have prompted criminal and civil investigations into federal public corruption, and it appears such oversight is needed in Florida now,” the letter said.
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FPL communications director David Reuter said in an emailed statement that the documents cited in the reports were “both an inaccurate and misleading representation of our actions.”
The owner of an Alabama-based consulting firm once used by FPL is in a bitter legal dispute with his former employees, and documents cited in the reports have been leaked to gain leverage in the litigation, said Reuter.
“From the moment we became aware of these allegations, we undertook a thorough investigation which found no evidence of any unlawful wrongdoing by FPL or any of our employees,” Reuters said.
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The split between the owner of Matrix, the Alabama consulting firm, and its former employees has resulted in litigation.
Castor’s request for an investigation follows a report from the Orlando Sentinel that the Matrix worked to oust utility haters from elective office. The Miami Herald and Sentinel reported this week that Matrix secretly funded a Tallahassee outlet that advocated for rate hikes, demanded legislative favors and criticized political opponents of the FPL. Last month, Florida media reported that Alabama consultants secretly monitored a Florida Times-Union columnist whose coverage was deemed critical of the FPL.
According to the Sentinel, the Alabama consultants were at the center of the efforts of the “ghost” candidates in Florida.
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A 2020 state Senate race in Central Florida and two others in South Florida have come under scrutiny over whether independent ‘ghost’ candidates entered the races only to siphon off votes from Democrats. The “ghost” candidates in Florida’s three races were promoted by a pair of entities chaired by then-GOP political consultant Alex Alvarado, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Alvarado was told by South Florida prosecutors that he was the target of their investigation, which has already led to the indictment of former lawmaker Frank Artiles, according to the Sentinel. Artiles is accused of bribing another of the “ghost” candidates to run in South Florida’s Senate District 37.
Separately, two political operatives and an independent candidate were charged in May in Seminole County with election finance violations.
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Matrix and FPL have not been accused of wrongdoing in the investigations.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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