State Sen. Aaron Bean demanded on Friday a federal and state probe into false claims made by an opponent in the Republican Primary race in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.
Candidate Erick Aguilar, as first reported by POLITICO Florida, was removed from the Republican fundraising platform WinRed after revelations he had been appropriating the identities of national Republicans like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis in pursuit of small-dollar donations.
The gambit worked. Aguilar has reported raising over $1 million for this race, with donations from around the country amounting to a big chunk of that sum. But as POLITICO Florida noted, many of the donors contacted had no clue who Aguilar was.
Bean wants answers.
“We were saddened and angered to read that our opponent, Erick Aguilar, has been scamming seniors and others in Florida and all across the country to get contributions to his campaign,” said Bean, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
“Impersonating Gov. DeSantis and President Trump in fundraising emails is not only shameful and disgusting, but it is also fraud and should be investigated at the state and federal level,” Bean added.
The reports of questionable fundraising tactics are the latest turn in a race that pits one of the stalwarts of Northeast Florida politics against a candidate who got less than 20% of the vote two years ago, the last time he ran for Congress.
Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican currently serving in the state Senate, continues to consolidate support from most electorally successful wings of the Florida Republican Party. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and a swath of regional elected officials have all endorsed Bean.
The seat, which replaces the minority access seat in the old Florida’s 5th Congressional District, is designed to perform Republican in a General Election. Bean and Aguilar are on the Primary ballot, along with health insurance contract analyst Jon Chuba.
A recent poll by the Tyson Group conducted for the Republican Party of Florida showed three-fifths of voters were undecided, with Bean getting 24% support, Aguilar 14% and Chuba 3%.
Though the district is expected to lean Republican in the fall, former state Sen. Tony Hill and previous congressional candidate LaShonda Holloway are both actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination.