Joe Saunders is running for HD 106 in Miami-Dade. So is someone named ‘Moe Saunders’
Image via Joe Saunders.

Joe Saunders
Until late Thursday afternoon, 'Moe Saunders' appeared on Florida's elections website as Maureen Saunders Scott.

There’s a four-way race for the seat representing House District 106 in northeast Miami-Dade County. Two of the candidates have one letter differentiating their names.

One is Joe Saunders, a Democrat who became one of Florida’s first openly gay lawmakers and is running to regain a seat in the House. The other is Moe Saunders, a mysterious candidate who listed a St. Johns County address on paperwork she submitted to the state last week.

Until about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Moe Saunders’ name appeared on the Florida Division of Elections website as “Maureen Saunders Scott.” Then it switched.

The citizen journalism X account NoBe Local — Miami Beach first flagged the similarities between the names of Joe Saunders and Maureen Saunders Scott on Sunday, four days before the change. The Miami New Times published a report about it Monday.

Moe + Joe = bad mojo. Image via Florida Division of Elections.

Ben Wilcox of the government watchdog group Integrity Florida told the New Times it appeared Scott “could be a ghost candidate” — a person who enters a race not to win but to siphon votes from another, more viable candidate.

In 2020, a ghost candidate with a name similar to then-incumbent Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez drew enough votes — more than 6,000 — from likely confused voters to unseat him by just 34 votes. The winner in the race, Miami Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia, handily won re-election in 2022 and denied any knowledge of underhandedness. Former Rep. Frank Artiles is now facing criminal charges for coordinating the scheme.

Multiple sources told Florida Politics that Scott is a disgruntled relative of Joe Saunders and is running to spoil his campaign.

She is, in fact, his aunt. And she’s accused him on X of trying to cover up the “repeated sadistic sexual assault” she said she suffered from her uncle and for supporting his father in persecuting her and her daughter.

“Joseph until you are ready to be honest about the 15 (years) you participated in silencing me about the decade of sexual abuse from uncle Bill and your rapist father’s 30 year campaign to punish me and MY QUEER DAUGHTER for surviving you don’t deserve to run! #METOO,” she wrote on Jan. 10.

One of many posts on X Maureen Saunders Scott made accusing Joe Saunders of trying to silence her about sexual abuse by her uncle. Image via X.

Both Saunders and Scott qualified for the HD 106 race this week. So did the district incumbent, Republican Rep. Fabián Basabe, and his lone Primary challenger, Melinda Almonte.

Scott opened her X account in November 2023. In January, she began tagging and posting about Saunders relentlessly. That same month, she also started sharing posts by Basabe.

She also occasionally taunted former Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and praised Gov. Ron DeSantis for respectively opposing and supporting Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, which limits LGBTQ-inclusive instruction in public school classrooms. In a few posts, she wrote to former UFC fighter Ben Saunders, also an apparent relative, referencing financial disputes between him and her.

Then on Feb. 18, she replied to Basabe and offered him dirt on Saunders.

Maureen Saunders Scott offering Fabián Basabe family dirt. Image via X.

Shortly after Florida Politics reported that Scott had changed her name on the Division of Elections website to Moe Saunders, Joe Saunders’ campaign released a statement accusing Basabe and the Florida GOP of propping her up as a candidate.

“Today, Fabián Basabe and the Republican Party showed their cards with a coordinated and orchestrated effort to fool voters in HD 106. But their shameless tactics will not work as voters will see through their attempts to mislead our community,” said Saunders’ spokesperson, Claire VanSusteren.

“Joe Saunders has a strong record of true public service anchored on his promise to take on critical issues like out of control property insurance, protections for Biscayne Bay, putting an end to the continued overreach coming from Tallahassee, and stopping the attacks on our personal freedoms.”

Asked whether he had orchestrated Scott’s candidacy, Basabe said by text, “NO, and NO JOE!”

“My opposition and his camp have said far worse and I’m sure have a lot more in store for me. I ran a clean race in 2022 and I am focused on running my own race now. People can no longer afford distractions,” he said in a statement, the entirety of which can be read here.

“It’s bad enough that outside interests are attempting to price out our beloved communities. We now have outsiders trying to win our elections. Maybe someone should just ask Moe why she’s running before throwing bogus accusations around!”

Miami Beach Rep. Fabián Basabe denied involvement in Maureen Saunders Scott’s campaign and recommended asking her why she’s running against her nephew. Image via Fabián Basabe.

Saunders added his own comments just before 11 a.m. Friday.

“A distant relative who lives hundreds of miles from this community has filed to run in HD 106. There are obviousl political games being played here,” he said. “My focus is to continue to build bipartisan support across the district to solve problems for our residents and for our community.”

Read his full statement here.

The name switch Thursday occurred despite stricter requirements in a sweeping election law GOP legislators pushed through during the 2023 Session that, among other things, mandates that candidates who wish to run under nicknames would have to file a separate affidavit asking for it.

Florida Politics contacted the Division of Elections for an explanation as to why the name change was authorized and who requested it and will update this report upon receipt of a response.

HD 106 covers a northeastern portion of Miami-Dade, including 10 coastal municipalities from Fisher Island and South Beach to Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.


Editor’s note: This report has been updated to include statements from Joe Saunders’ campaign, Saunders, Basabe, more information on Maureen Saunders Scott and to give proper credit to NoBe Local — Miami Beach for first mentioning Saunders Scott’s filing.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Michael K

    June 13, 2024 at 10:41 pm

    Joe Saunders is a smart and decent person. It’s disgusting to see just how low and dirty the MAGAs will stoop. Coupled with voter intimidation and suppression, this seems to be the only way they think they can win. If this is how they run a campaign, think of what they will do if they are in office.

    Integrity still matters – and Joe Saunders respects the dignity of the office.

    • Anormous

      June 14, 2024 at 11:04 am

      JOIN Make $170 per hour. its very hard to find jobs nowadays. In this situation, you have access to a wealth of resources to help you with your working abilities. Be motivated to promote Thousands of works such as copy paste things through job boards and career websites vx10 on internet.

      Just Take A Look At This>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Phil Morton

    June 14, 2024 at 4:47 am

    I can’t wait to see Cord Byrd’s explanation for allowing the name change. Got my popcorn ready!

  • Elvis Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    June 14, 2024 at 8:45 am

    Trickey Dook 4 Brains Leftist shenagians going on down there in MIAMI/DOOK County.
    Elvis Pitts “The #1 Political Go To Guru” American

Comments are closed.


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