FEC deadlocks on allegations that FPL broke the law by using Matrix conduits to hide political contributions to ‘ghost candidates’

Former FPL CEO Eric Silagy

By Dan Christensen,

The Federal Election Commission has deadlocked on a nonprofit anti-corruption group’s allegations that Florida Power & Light used a consultant’s network of obscure dark money nonprofits to conceal its political spending.

The 3-3 deadlock became apparent Wednesday when Next Era Energy, FPL’s parent, said it was notified that the FEC “voted to close its file” on the complaint alleging certain violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

“The FEC notified the company that it made its decision in late February, which concluded the FEC’s consideration of the complaint without a finding that the commission had reason to believe that FPL violated the FECA,” Next Era said in a press release.

FPL is the nation’s largest electric utility.

The complaint was filed by Washington, D.C.’s CItizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in October 2022.


The FEC did not elaborate on its decision. It will release the case file later this month.

The CREW complaint was based on reporting by the Orlando Sentinel, the Miami Herald and others.

The complaint said, “According to records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel, in November 2019, Jeff Pitts, who was then working for a consulting firm called Matrix LLC, sent the CEO and President of Florida Power & Light, Eric Silagy, two memoranda about money in politics, one of which described a proposed ‘structure for funding 2020 activities’ while the other discussed legalities related to ‘federal elections support.’ The funding memo, which named minimizing public reporting as one of its goals, included a flowchart depicting how the company’s money could move through several layers of corporate entities, particularly nonprofit organizations, before being used to fund ‘political activities’ on both the state and federal level.”

The nonprofit Grow United was at the center of the Florida “ghost candidate” scandal. The company paid for mailers promoting third party candidates “who did litle campaigning of their own and appear to have been encouraged to run in an effort to siphon votes from Democratic candidates in state Senate races,” the CREW complaint said.

Silagy retired abruptly from FPL in January 2023 with a compensation package in excess of $13.5 million, accorrding to He was appointed to the state university system’s Board of Governors by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019. His term expires in January 2026.

The newspaper also obtained records showing that Grow United and other nonprofits were set up and
“apparently controlled by consultants once employed by Matrix LLC, including Pitts or those who work with him [the ‘Conduit Consultants’], the complaint said. Those entities, it said, made donations to “federal super PACs in 2020 in an apparent effort to carry out the scheme described in the 2019 memoranda. Matrix later asserted the Conduit Consultants were operating without the firm’s knowledge or authorization.”

The FEC has six commissioners, three Democrats and three Republicans. For years, it often has been unwilling or unable to reach a majority vote on the controversial, highly partisan cases that come before it.

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