Former President Donspanld Trump’s super PAC is accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of election-related ethics violations in running a “shadow” presidential campaign.
The accusations were made in a letter dated Tuesday that was sent by MAGA Inc. and addressed to the chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics, Glenton Gilzean, who was appointed by DeSantis. It cites exspanmples it sspanys show DeSspanntis is running a “shadow” campaign without properly filing for candidacy, and pointed to potential changes by the Florida Legislature to the state’s resign-to-run law, the governor’s ongoing book tour in early 2024 primary states and the funds raised by his political action committee despite being term-limited.
The 15-page letter, first revealed by NBC News, outlines “gifts” it said were illegally accepted by the governor, including millions into his state political action committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, that could be transferred to a federal super PAC if he were to announce a presidential candidacy. It also details advocacy organizations and nonprofits crespanted to get DeSspanntis to run for president and book royalties that were increased by “promotion of political committees.”
Read the letter here:Letter to the Floridspan Commission on Ethics
The governor’s office immediately dismissed the effort in a statement to the network.
“Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it’s inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes,” said Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director.
An ethics commission spokesperson, however, said Wednesday the panel had not received any correspondence from MAGA Inc. In addition, all complaints must be submitted through a complaint form, which is confidential until heard by the nine-member commission, said Lynn Blais, the commission’s spokesperson.
Before it gets to the investigation stage, the complaint must be heard by the commission after hearing recommendations on whether it is legally sufficient. If so, then the commission would move forward to investigate based on whether it has probable cause, Blais said.
There is no timeline for when such a complaint would reach the commission agenda. The next meeting is scheduled for April 21.
Allegations of ethics violations latest salvo from Trump aimed at potential rival DeSantis
The letter by MAGA Inc., one of Trump’s super PACs, raises the temperature amid the former president’s increasing attacks on his erstwhile Sunshine State political ally. The letter to the ethics panel requests that DeSantis be penalized according to Florida law, which includesimpeachment, removal from office, public censure and ballot disqualification among potential, but not realistic, punishments.
Trump has again escalated tensions with DeSantis by ridiculing him as “DeSanctus” or “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and recently has attacked policy actions from the governor, including his voting record as a congressman on ethanol and the Social Security retirement age.
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The move adds to the so far one-way feud between the two Florida Republicans. DeSantis, who has refrained from firing back at Trump, has been singled out in recent national polls as a leading contender for the presidential Republican nomination, even though the governorhasn’t announced a bid.
“For so long as Governor DeSantis remains both an undeclared candidate under FECA and a sitting Governor subject to Florida’s resign to run law, any expenditures made by political committees in an effort to influence Governor DeSantis’s decision to run for president constitute illegal gifts by political committees and illegal lobbying payments,” the letter read.
It added: “Unlike other Florida officials, Governor DeSantis is leveraging his elected office and breaching his associated duties in a coordinated effort to develop his national profile, enrich himself and his political allies, and influence the national electorate.”
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DeSantis appointed five of the nine members of the Florida Commission on Ethics. MAGA Inc. did not respond to a request for comment, including about its expectations that the ethics commission would act on its allegations considering it has a majority appointed by the governor.
The commission’s responsibilities include “acting on complaints, recommending penalties, and issuing legal opinions,” according to the commission’s website.