NewsTreasure CoastRegion St Lucie County


Former St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara admits involvement in 'ghost campaign'

Mascara accused of misusing his authority or his position as sheriff to recruit a fake candidate
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara holds a news conference on Jan. 19, 2023, to give updates on the mass shooting that killed a mother during an MLK event.
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 21, 2024

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Former St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, who is under investigation for violating state ethics laws, admitted that he misused his public position to help himself win the 2020 election.

The admission came in a document filed Thursday with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The filing said Mascara admitted that he "approached and encouraged" an individual to seek the sheriff's office in the 2020 election, a violation of the Code of Ethics.

Region St Lucie County

What penalties could ex-St. Lucie Co. sheriff face amid ethics probe?

Meghan McRoberts
11:01 PM, Jun 12, 2024

According to this latest filing, Mascara and his attorney worked with an advocate for the ethics commission to come up with a stipulation, which would keep Mascara from having to go through any further hearings or proceedings on the matter.

Mascara is accused of misusing his authority or his position as sheriff to recruit a fake candidate to run against his primary opponent and have his subordinates run the campaign.

When the straw candidate won the primary, the plan was that he would concede to Mascara to win the election.


The filing shows that Mascara admitted to violating the code of ethics and made the admission "to avoid the costs of litigation and protracted legal proceedings."

He and his attorney also asked the commission to approve recommending a penalty of public censure and reprimand of $5,000 fine.

Region St Lucie County

'I'm the victim,' former sheriff candidate says about ghost campaign

Meghan McRoberts
9:11 PM, Dec 07, 2023

However, if the commission does not approve the stipulation, the document stated that this would then not be deemed an admission by Mascara.

WPTV has reached out to Mascara's attorney for further statements but has not heard back as of Friday evening.

The next public hearing for the commission, where Mascara's case is expected to be discussed, is in late July.

Mascara put out an announcement on Facebook Saturday morning:

"One thing I have learned in the last few months is sensationalism in the media sells.

With ongoing investigations of the 2020 election, I remained silent to prevent any influence on those investigations.

Four years ago I entered into the 2020 election cycle facing an unqualified opponent. For someone who dedicated twenty three years of my life working with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office to make it one of the best in the country, I was saddened by the possibility that no qualified candidates had entered the race.

I asked many qualified retired law enforcement officers if they would consider seeking the office of Sheriff. None were to be considered “ghost” candidates as the media has portrayed, but real candidates who had a genuine interest in serving our community as Sheriff. One person I asked, I did so within the confines of the Sheriff’s Office, which precipitated a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a parallel investigation by the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Phil Archer.

After almost a three-year investigation, the State Attorney’s Office concluded there was no evidence to support my involvement in any ghost candidacy. In fact, the candidate garnered more votes against me than any other candidate in all of my elections, excluding my first. After being criminally cleared by the State Attorney’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement referred the investigation to the Commission on Ethics.

The Commission on Ethics investigator advised me that encouraging anyone to run for public office within the confines of the Sheriff’s Office or any government office was a violation of the Code of Ethics for public officials. I immediately admitted that is what I did and never could I imagine that encouraging people to enter the democratic process was unethical.

On June 20, 2024, I entered into an agreement with the Commission on Ethics that I did violate the Code of Ethics for elected officials.

For those friends and supporters who have reached out to me to offer your kind words of support, I greatly appreciate you.

There will always be those haters who will embellish the facts and twist the truth to fit their dialogue for their own personal gain. Sadly, many are in the media . . . others are currently seeking political office."