Florida Ballot Fraud: Second Woman Arrested in Casino Gaming Expansion Case

  • Maria Guadalupe Bautista worked on the political action committee for LVS in 2021
  • She turned in 191 fraudulent petitions, even faking signatures of dead people
  • Her colleague, Kasandra Baylor, was also arrested in June for similar offenses
  • LVS and the Seminole got into a heated legal battle over Florida gaming expansion
Signature on document
A second woman has been arrested for faking signatures for an LVS-backed casino campaign in Florida. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The case unravels

Maria Guadalupe Bautista, a 24-year-old woman from Florida, is the second person arrested and charged for committing fraud in the lead-up to the November 2022 ballot. The case relates to a gambling expansion campaign run in 2021 by Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS).  

16 counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information

According to a statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Bautista is facing 16 counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information.  

She formed part of a political action committee (PAC) called “Florida Voters in Charge.” Bankrolled by US gaming giant LVS, the PAC tried to convince voters to permit North Florida card rooms to become casinos through a state constitution amendment. It would have allowed LVS to expand into the state.

Ultimately, the PAC failed to achieve its desired results. Not only did it fail to get the required number of signatures for the ballot, but authorities discovered that the committee had faked many of the signatures it did submit.

A morbid tactic

In total, the PAC gathered 976 signatures for its campaign. Election supervisors in counties across Florida determined that 477 of these were invalid because the signatures did not match.

Authorities discovered that the PAC had even used the names of deceased people to make up the numbers. One election supervisor discovered the signature of a woman she knew at church who had been dead for five years.

Bautista supposedly turned in 191 petitions deemed fraudulent. Investigators found that 16 of her submitted forms had fake signatures, two of which were from people who were already dead.

Her PAC colleague, 65-year-old Kasandra Baylor, was responsible for many more. Baylor was arrested in June and is also facing charges of criminal use of personal identification information. Authorities are investigating another 19 petition gatherers in addition to Bautista and Baylor.   

Baylor made around $11,000 working for the PAC between October 2021 and January 2022, according to her arrest warrant. In total, LVS spent $73m trying to get the amendment on the November 2022 ballot.

A desperate battle

Initially, the LVS-backed committee attempted to fight to keep the amendment alive in court by suing for more time. However, it later dropped the effort.

a gaming turf war”

In the end, the Florida battle had proven a difficult one for LVS, referred to at the time by POLITICO as “a gaming turf war.” The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which holds a monopoly over casino gambling in the state, took immediate issue with LVS’ attempts to move in on the sector. It created the Standing Up for Florida committee to combat the LVS PAC, and soon found itself in a legal standoff.

LVS’ PAC filed a lawsuit against the Seminole claiming that the group had been attempting to sabotage its efforts, using illegal methods such as intimidation to persuade people not to support its amendment. In response, the Seminole filed its own lawsuit just months later, making its own allegations of illegal conduct and fraud.

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