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Senate Candidate and Election Fraudster Behind Flood of New Super PACs

‘PAC Man’ Josue Larose was recently fined more than half a million dollars, but he’s still filing FEC paperwork

Josue LaRose / Screenshot from Colbert Report
Josue LaRose / Screenshot from Colbert Report
• December 22, 2015 10:00 am

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Florida man Josue Larose was recently fined $500,000 for filing fraudulent campaign finance paperwork, but that hasn’t stopped him from declaring his candidacy for the U.S. Senate for the second time and founding more than 300 Super PACs and political committees this month alone.

Larose filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in May declaring his Democratic candidacy for the Florida Senate seat currently held by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), whose presidential bid precludes him from running for reelection.

On the same day, he created a campaign committee for his apparent Senate run. It has yet to receive or spend a single penny, according to periodic FEC filings. If his history in politics is any indicator—officially, Larose has run for Governor of Florida, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and President of the United States—his latest candidacy is not serious.

However, it could raise legal issues similar to those that in March landed him on the wrong side of more than a thousand civil charges involving fraudulent campaign finance filings and allegations of bribery and extortion.

It also comes during an election cycle sprinkled with comical faux-candidates such as Deez Nutz and Dat Phat A$$, both of which are technically candidates for president.

On Dec. 1, Larose, who also goes by Joshua, started showing up on FEC paperwork for a host of unlikely political groups. He is now listed as the treasurer of 367 federal political groups, including campaign committees, Super PACs, and traditional political action committees.

Larose is living up to a nickname he earned in Tallahassee political circles: the PAC Man. Infamous for his prolific (and, officials say, fraudulent) filings with the Florida Election Commission, Larose was even a subject of a segment on late night host Stephen Colbert’s satirical news show.

He frequently refers to himself as "Billionaire Josue Larose" or "Economist Josue Larose" in official paperwork. An enigma in Florida politics—few have ever seen Larose in person—he now appears to have pivoted to federal politics.

Larose is listed as the treasurer of more than 300 groups registered with the FEC since Dec. 1, including "chambers of commerce" and "government relations bureaus" for every U.S. state and 48 foreign governments.

According to the FEC, he is also behind groups claiming to represent seven Christian denominations, and ones branding themselves as representatives of the banking, hotels, health care, automotive, hospital, credit union, insurance, airline, and petroleum industries, among many others.

The unlikely list of groups mirrors Larose’s legally problematic activities at the state level. The Florida Department of Elections fined him more than $500,000 this year after finding him guilty of 1,026 civil charges relating to fraudulent campaign finance reports.

According to a Florida Elections Commission spokeswoman, that fine has yet to be collected.

Campaign finance attorney Jason Torchinsky says Larose’s foray into federal politics "potentially raises lots of [legal] issues." Torchinsky called the list of groups that Larose founded this month "beyond ridiculous."

"As a candidate, if [Larose] establishes, finances, maintains, or controls [a] Super PAC, that causes him potential federal criminal and civil problems," Torchinsky wrote. More than 150 of the groups founded this month that list him as treasurer are Super PACs, according to the FEC’s website.

"There's also a question about whether these entities should all be treated as affiliated entities, subject to a single contribution limit," though none of the groups Larose founded this month has existed long enough to have filed periodic disclosures of income and expenses.

It was those types of reports that landed him in hot water with the Florida Election Commission.

According to Florida officials, Larose "reported millions of dollars in monetary contributions from non-existent donors," "reported campaign depositories for non-existent bank accounts," knowingly filed more than a thousand fabricated campaign finance reports for his 331 state political groups, and falsely accused state elections officials of trying to bribe and extort him.

Larose ran for Florida’s other U.S. Senate seat in 2012, and for governor of the state in 2010. It was the 2010 campaign, and the hundreds of groups that he incorporated around that time, that landed him in hot water with state elections officials.

Florida’s Department of Elections recently made public thousands of pages of documents from its enforcement actions against Larose. They lay out in detail and with accompanying documentation Larose’s extensive efforts to inflate his contribution figures and personal finances with the help of his wife, Valencia St. Louis.

Both of them listed six-figure incomes from a company called America’s Elite Magazine, one of hundreds of Florida corporations incorporated by Larose over the last decade.

Others include American Prestigious University, Inc., United States Airlines, Inc., American Film Casting and Modeling Agency, Inc., Billionaire Joshua Larose Hedge Fund and Financial Services Company, Inc., American Red Cross of Southeast Florida, Inc., and companies billed as "Chambers of Commerce" for businesses in Argentina, Indonesia, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, and Belgium.

Larose and St. Louis also said they were pulling in salaries from America’s Federal Lobbying Firm, which reported on federal disclosure forms representing dozens of clients with similarly unlikely names through last year. The firm never reported any actual lobbying expenses.

Repeated attempts by the Free Beacon to reach Larose by email and phone were unsuccessful.

Published under: 2016 Election