Sunday, March 3

Candidate in 2020 St. Lucie County race for sheriff said he tried to warn GOP of ghost campaign

WPTV is digging deeper into allegations of a fake candidate on the 2020 ballot in the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office race.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that the candidate was planted to boost Sheriff Ken Mascara’s chances of winning.

The legitimate candidate who lost the race, Richard Williams, spoke to WPTV about the roadblocks he faced trying to bring these allegations to light sooner.

Just days after Keith Pearson’s appointment as St. Lucie County sheriff following Mascara’s sudden and controversial retirement, WPTV has been asking the new sheriff to open up about the role FDLE said he played in taking out Mascara’s republican challenger in 2020.

Pearson denied knowing he was helping Kevin Carter run a fake campaign against a legitimate candidate.

FDLE said Pearson helped make and place campaign signs for Carter around town.

“Me and my team, we knew right away that it was a straw candidate,” Richard Williams, a legitimate candidate in the 2020 race, said. “We knew it wasn’t real.”

Williams has been trying to bring the Carter ghost campaign to light for three years.

FDLE said Carter was hand-picked by Mascara, a Democrat, to run as a Republican to siphon votes from Williams, a Republican.

Williams said he felt robbed of the chance for an honest face-off.

“We are very aware that yes I’m the victim of it,” Williams said.

He’s also angry that an email sent in June 2020 tried to warn the St. Lucie County Republican Party leadership and the governor’s office both included as recipients that Carter’s campaign wasn’t legitimate.

He wrote in the email the following:

“Are we going to allow our Republican primary election to be manipulated by a proxy for the entrenched Democratic incumbent,” Williams wrote.

The St. Lucie County GOP held a news conference Wednesday demanding Gov. Ron DeSantis remove Pearson as sheriff.

WPTV asked the current party leadership about why they didn’t address Williams’ allegations faster.

“He says he tried to tell the GOP back then this was going on, and he said that it fell upon deaf ears. Is it the pot calling the kettle black to now take it seriously?” WPTV reporter Meghan McRoberts asked St. Lucie County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Kenny Nail.

“No, not at all. For him to go ahead and say that we did not take it seriously, I believe that he is mistaken,” Nail said. “Maybe he wasn’t aware of what we did do, but theres nothing we can do. The ballots were already counted. To be able to prove this, at the time, and to be able to reverse something, it was impossible.”

Williams is glad that the FDLE eventually took on the case, bringing to light a story he’s been trying to tell for years.

“It was a sigh of relief, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “This is the tip of the iceberg if you ask me.”

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