Allies of former President Trump are escalating their attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by formally accusing the governor of accepting illegal campaign contributions and coordinating a “shadow presidential campaign.”
Make America Great Again Inc., a pro-Trump super PAC, is filing a 15-page complaint Wednesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics that demands an investigation alleged “illegal conduct” by the governor.
Taylor Budowich, a former Trump spokesman and now-head of MAGA Inc., asserted in a letter to Florida Commission on Ethics Chairman Glenton Gilzean there is probable cause to investigate whether DeSantis has violated Florida law by fundraising through his Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC, having his team interview political operatives in early primary states, going on a “personally lucrative book tour,” and taking other steps towards running for president while not officially declaring his candidacy for higher office.
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“Governor DeSantis’ failure to declare his candidacy is no mere oversight; it is a coordinate effort specifically designed for him to accept, as unethical gifts, illegal campaign contributions and certain personal benefits that are necessarily intended to influence his official decision to resign from office under Florida’s resign to run law,” Budowich wrote. “Governor DeSantis’s ham-handed maneuverings have rendered him irreparably conflicted and have left the statehouse vacant.”
Those close to DeSantis scoffed at the complaint.
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“Gov. DeSantis is one of the most ethical and principled leaders in our country right now, and the people of Florida clearly agree. Most voters would agree an ethics complaint coming from Donald Trump isn’t worth the paper it was written on,” an adviser in DeSantis’ wider political orbit – who asked for anonymity to speak more freely – told Fox News.
In a statement, DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske called this yet another “frivolous and politically motivated” attack from Trump.
“It’s inappropriate to use state ethics complaints for partisan purposes,” Fenske added.
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Polls have consistently shown Trump and DeSantis as the top two choices of Republican primary voters in a hypothetical 2024 matchup. Threatened by DeSantis’ popularity, Trump has taken to trashing DeSantis on the campaign trail even though the governor is not expected to announce a White House run till this summer at least.
Most recently, Trump released a campaign video downplaying DeSantis’ record as governor, calling him “Ron DeSanctus” and going so far as to praise former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat who lost to DeSantis by 19-points in November.
However, the Trump-aligned MAGA Inc. PAC’s complaint marks the first time anyone from Trump world has turned to the legal system to go after DeSantis.
The complaint is unlikely to go anywhere. Five of the nine members of the ethics commission were appointed by DeSantis, including its chairman, Gilzean.