By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — You’ve heard of voter fraud, but the latest Sunshine State election irregularity comes with a twist — candidate fraud.
YINKA ADESHINA: The former candidate for governor was arrested for allegedly falsifying campaign finance reports in an effort to obtain taxpayer matching funds.
It nearly cost taxpayers a bundle.
Adeshina was arrested Monday by the Tallahassee Police Department on two counts of fraud for submitting false elections statements to the Florida Department of State.
Adeshina, 43, ran as a Republican against incumbent Gov. Rick Scott in the Aug. 26, gubernatorial primary. She finished a distant third, garnering nearly 17,000 votes, or just 1.8 percent of the primary total.
But just as elections have consequences, so do false election statements.
A spokesperson for FDLE confirmed to Watchdog.org that both counts are third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
Adeshina claimed to have raised $182,000 on her campaign finance reports. But many donors and donor addresses she listed don’t actually exist, according to FDLE.
In a statement, the FDLE said it believes Adeshina falsified the financial documents to qualify for publicly funded campaign support, or matching funds.
Florida election law allows any candidate who can raise than $150,000 to collect matching funds from taxpayers.
“While Adeshina never collected matching funds, she did provide false information in an effort to receive the money,” FDLE alleges.
Watchdog.org obtained Adeshina’s arrest warrant, which states the former candidate reported she raised $182,080 from 408 contributors between Feb. 1 to March 31.
After naming herself treasurer of her campaign, Adeshina contacted the Department of State on Feb. 20.
“I am the treasurer and signator of the account. Could you be kind to remit to my account the amount collected so far,” she wrote in a Feb. 20 letter.
Her bank records eventually were subpoenaed after 19 campaign “contributors” listed an address that was determined to be the Adeshina’s former residence.
“None of Adeshina’s Sunshine Bank Accounts have had an $182,080 balance during the time period subpoenaed for the campaign,” states the arrest warrant. Only one transaction for $7,816 could be associated with her campaign for governor.
What’s more, Adeshina was arrested at the Tallahassee Regional Airport after reportedly returning from a three-week vacation in the West Africa nation of Nigerian.
Law enforcement officials said Adeshina was medically screened for Ebola after a flight connection in Atlanta and showed no signs of the virus.
“Out of an abundance of caution she was arrested by TPD officers and Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies who donned gloves and masks,” an FDLE statement said.
Watchdog.org contacted the Florida Department of Health to ask about possible follow-up medical screenings but a response was not immediately returned. There are no cases of Ebola reported in Florida.
The case is being prosecuted by Willie Meggs, state attorney for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit.