A witness told investigators Artiles was overheard bragging about his role in the South Florida scheme at Brodeur’s election night party.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, which investigated Artiles’ involvement in Rodriguez’s candidacy, has obtained a slew of records, including bank statements, invoices and emails that show Artiles was paid $15,000 per month by a top GOP consulting firm in 2020 to work on South Florida Senate races, as he was allegedly paying his friend to run as an independent candidate in the race, which featured a Democratic incumbent with the same last name.

But unlike their counterparts in South Florida, FDLE investigators didn’t delve into Foglesong’s possible motivations for serving as a consultant for Iannotti, an inexperienced candidate who did not pay Foglesong for his services.

Stuart grilled Cope during the deposition about why FDLE didn’t obtain Foglesong’s bank records, which might indicate whether he was being paid by another entity.

Investigators didn’t look at those documents, Cope said, because it’s not illegal for another entity to contract a political consultant on behalf of a candidate. Iannotti told investigators during a separate interview that, unlike Rodriguez, she was not paid to run.

Stuart also quizzed Cope about why investigators didn’t explore Florida Power & Light’s possible role in the scheme.

The Sentinel reported in 2021 that former FPL CEO Eric Silagy and other executives worked closely with political operatives for Matrix LLC, an Alabama-based consulting firm that targeted political adversaries of the utility in recent years through covert political spending and other tactics. Records anonymously delivered to the Sentinel showed FPL had given more than $10 million to dark-money groups controlled by the same network of consultants.

The now-former Matrix operatives controlled a nonprofit organization in 2020 that funded the ads promoting the “ghost” candidates. And the Sentinel’s reporting revealed that Matrix operatives and FPL executives traded text messages about strategy in the three races that featured those candidates.

But Cope said his probe was narrowly focused on the reporting of Iannotti’s campaign contributions, not the campaign mailers. He said he hadn’t seen any evidence of FPL’s involvement besides news coverage of the utility.

Cope’s deposition also revealed FDLE investigators didn’t try to talk with Brodeur about Iannotti’s candidacy, even though Paris was his employee at the Seminole County Chamber during the campaign and Iannotti’s presence in the race almost certainly helped clear Brodeur’s path to winning the swing seat.

“Our investigation’s a campaign finance investigation, and there was no information that was able to be developed to indicate that he was involved with the cash that was involved in this case,” Cope said.

Brodeur told the Sentinel last year he was unaware of Paris’ involvement in Iannotti’s candidacy.