A super PAC with close ties to former President Donald Trump is asking Florida ethics investigators to check whether Governor Ron DeSantis’ recent political activity violates state law.
In a 15-page letter to the Florida Ethics Commission, Make America Great Again Inc. accuses DeSantis of running a “shadow presidential campaign” and says the Republican governor should step down under a state law that prohibits people from holding elections. office while looking for another. The letter, which a spokesperson said will be sent on Wednesday, argues that DeSantis’ book tour, ongoing fundraising and reported efforts to recruit agents for his likely presidential campaign all suggest he is a de facto presidential candidate while also serving as governor.
MAGA Inc., also accuses DeSantis of getting rich from his book tour and receiving financial backing intended to influence his decision to run — allegations that echo criticism Trump has faced since his first ascension. on the political scene. He also notes that several political committees trying to recruit DeSantis to run are already fundraising on his behalf, including one launched by Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration official.
The contents of the planned letter were first reported by NBC News.
“Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in a statement. “It is inappropriate to use state ethics complaints for partisan gain.”
The letter is a clear escalation by Trump’s allies in their efforts to slow down his chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Although DeSantis has yet to announce his intention to run, his likely entry into the race is very expected and polls suggest he is a credible contender to stop Trump, who has recently stepped up his attack on his former political ally.
What’s less clear, however, is whether MAGA Inc.’s list of charges will actually lead to action against DeSantis.
The state ethics commission is notoriously slow to review potential violations. Once received, a complaint would first trigger a review by commission lawyers to see if the allegations fall within its jurisdiction. Then the case would be assigned to an investigator, followed by a probable cause hearing. The commission meets only eight times a year, and its board of directors is made up entirely of appointees from the governor of Florida and the state legislature. Most infractions, if validated, result in a nominal fine.
By the time the case is resolved, Florida lawmakers will likely amend the state’s ‘resign to run’ law to clarify that DeSantis can serve as governor while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. .
Nonetheless, MAGA Inc. has explained how it intends to turn DeSantis’ fundraising and political activities against him as he lays the groundwork for a campaign. Trump allies are raising the issue of the $12 million DeSantis raised through a state political committee — largely in the form of seven-figure donations from wealthy donors — that will likely be funneled to a federal committee, CNN previously reported.
“The Make America Great Again movement was born to stop career politicians who use public service to amass personal wealth and power,” MAGA Inc. said in a statement Wednesday. “An investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission must take place as soon as possible.”