TALLAHASSEE – Governor Ron DeSantis made it official on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Wednesday night. He used the moment to distract from the talks that he is well on his way to running for president in 2024 and announced that he is indeed running for re-election.
“I’m not thinking about doing my job,” Desantis said when asked by the Fox News presenter about what he tells people when asked if he is “considering running for president in 2024.
To run for president, DeSantis must first be re-elected as governor in 2022, but there is still no official indication that DeSantis is ready to submit the papers required to officially run for office.
the Florida Division of Elections lists 13 candidatess for the governor, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and former Governor and current Congressman Charlie Crist, the two leading Democrats in the race. But DeSantis has not filed campaign documents, released financial disclosures, reported campaign expenses, or established a campaign treasurer – all of which are required for candidates for state office in Florida.
He’s raising money through his political committee Friends of Ron DeSantis.
Raised $ 50 million
As of the most recent reporting period, the governor’s political committee had raised more than $ 50 million in this election cycle, of which nearly $ 46 million in the first eight months of the year.
According to the Division of Election records, since DeSantis inaugurated in January 2019, its political committee has spent more than $ 510,000 on fundraising and $ 200,836 on database services, which are commonly used for email Calls for donations to. The committee reports spending more than $ 17,800 on photography and $ 120,000 on advertising.
And the The committee spent nearly $ 400,000 on “store inventory” when Friends of Ron DeSantis promoted the sale of beer koozies, hats, and other merchandise with the governor’s anti-masking messages. The slogans read: “How the hell am I supposed to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” And “Not Fauci my Florida.”
Will funds be used for the election campaign?
What is the purpose of spending on fundraising advice, advertising, database services, and photography if the governor doesn’t use his political committee to run political campaigns?
Helen Aguirre Ferré, Florida Republican Party spokeswoman and advisor to DeSantis, did not respond to these questions, which were posed in phone calls, emails and text messages Thursday. It would not answer how the governor views his obligation to publicly disclose his political activities in general.
And, like many of the governor’s advisors, Ferré hinted that DeSantis would officially announce his candidacy, but couldn’t say when.
Under state law, a candidate must sign an electoral gown and file a financial disclosure within 10 days of the appointment of a campaign treasurer and beginning of fundraising for campaign purposes.
but Candidate campaigns also come with restrictions that make it more attractive to rely on a political action committee. State law requires that a campaign committee for a candidate for governor raise no more than $ 3,000 from any individual or entity. In contrast, the Political Committee can raise funds indefinitely as long as it remains independent from a campaign.
“It’s another example of Florida’s dysfunctional campaign finance system,” said Ben Wilcox, president of Integrity Florida, a political watchdog organization.
“We allow potential candidates to set up political committees where they can raise funds 365 days a year, with no end date,” he said. “It’s dysfunctional.”
In 2013, then governor. Rick Scott waited until December 10 to officially determine his re-election campaign after his Let’s Get to Work political committee raised more than $ 18 million. In 2001, then governor. Jeb Bush filed his campaign papers on July 5th, and since Florida law then placed even more restrictions on political committees, he relied on the political arm of the Florida Republican Party to raise unlimited money from his donors.
Coordinated calls for donations
Over the past year, DeSantis’ political committee has worked with the governor’s office to coordinate fundraising campaigns that align with press events he conducts in his official capacity.
On Tuesday, DeSantis sued the federal government for immigration, – calling for the Biden government to detain people who seek asylum at US borders instead of releasing them while they wait for a hearing. Within minutes of the press conference, the governor’s political committee sent a donation email.
“Joe Biden’s obsession with targeting Florida is nothing more than a diversion to divert any responsibility for the chaos he has created in our country,” the email read.
The same thing happened in July when DeSantis flew on the state plane to Del Rio, Texas hold a press conference with Texas Governor Greg Abbott to criticize President Joe Biden’s border policy. Just a few hours before the press conference started, Friends of Ron DeSantis started a fundraiser.
“Today I’m going to Texas to see firsthand the raging crisis on the southern border of our country,” the fundraising email said governors for help.
More than 2,000 donations were received this weekend, the vast majority of which were small dollar donations, according to campaign finance reports.
Florida law restricts civil servants from “actively participating in a political campaign while on duty.” But it doesn’t authorize or prohibit coordinated events between a candidate and a political committee, as long as they abide by it certain restrictions.
Democrats called DeSantis for using the governor’s office to appeal to a national Republican audience.
Senator Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat who is also considering running for governor, said the immigration lawsuit is evidence of the governor’s “willingness to instigate policies of hatred in support of his future ambitions as president to win”.
DeSantis ran a national fundraiser. He hosted fundraisers in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, and California this summer was in West New York for a $ 5,000-per-plate fundraiser.
However, if the governor intends to transfer the funds he has raised to a political committee for national office, Florida law will not allow it to do so, Wilcox said.
According to the manual of the Department of Elections of the Political Committee “A Florida political committee may only use its funds for political activities in Florida, that is, make contributions and make expenses that by definition under Florida law only serve to influence the elections in Florida.”
You can contact Mary Ellen Klas at [email protected] and @MaryEllenKlas