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Chamber-linked group paid $470K to ‘ghost’ candidate operatives in 2020, tax record reveal

Orlando Sentinel by Annie Martin

A Florida Chamber of Commerce affiliate in 2020 paid nearly half a million dollars to a political consulting firm whose operatives played a key role in Florida’s “ghost” candidate scandal, surveilled a Jacksonville journalist and secretly gained control of a Tallahassee-based news site, tax records show.

IRS forms show Secure Florida’s Future, which is chaired by Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson, paid $470,000 in 2020 to Alabama-based Matrix LLC. And the next year, Secure Florida’s Future transferred $2 million to a dark money nonprofit organization linked to the Montgomery firm.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, obtained the tax records and shared them with the Orlando Sentinel.

Ivette Faulkner, the chamber’s executive vice president of strategic communication and marketingsaid the payment to Matrix was “non-political” and intended “to educate Floridians on issues that impact Florida’s economic and job growth,” but declined to elaborate.

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