According to a recent report by Beth Kassab for Winter Park Voice, charges have just been filed against newly elected commissioner Craig Russell’s campaign treasurer.

Christopher Hoats, who assists with coaching at Winter Park High School where Russell is a paid coach, is being accused of paying local teens to steal election signs after their campaign went into overtime following a runoff with their opponent, Jason Johnson.

According to witness testimony and video surveillance footage, Hoats allegedly approached a group of four minors outside of Floyd’s Barbershop in Maitland and offered to pay them $50 to steal 50 of Johnson’s signs, or $1 apiece. Hoats has denied the accusations and is facing multiple charges, including one delinquency of a minor, two counts of contributing to the dependency of a minor, and one count of petit theft.

Commissioner Russell, the city’s first elected Black commissioner, shared a statement with Orlando Sentinel that he is very “concerned” with the charges but that neither he or his campaign had been accused of the same misconduct.

Russell defeated Johnson with just 50.3% of the vote. That’s 34 votes that tipped the scale.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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