Florida State Officials Have Been Working to Raise Money for DeSantis’ 2024 Bid: Report
Having the money to fund your campaign is essential to running for office. Having taxpayer-salaried employees raising this money would seem to cross ethical lines. It apparently doesn’t bother Ron DeSantis.
The Florida governor officially entered the race for the 2024 presidency on Wednesday, and according to his campaign raised an impressive $8.2 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy. According to a report from NBC News, officials in DeSantis’ gubernatorial administration have been participating in efforts to convince high-profile Florida lobbyists to fork over campaign contributions.
Text messages between administration officials and lobbyists reviewed by NBC News show that both members of DeSantis’ office and individuals with leadership positions in various state agencies were pushing for contributions.
“The bottom line is that the administration appears to be keeping tabs on who is giving, and are doing it using state staff,” one lobbyist told NBC News.
The timing of the fundraising blitz is critical, with Florida’s legislature still negotiating the state’s budget, and DeSantis enjoying veto power over line items. Lobbyists who spoke to NBC News said they fear a perceived lack of support for their campaign could jeopardize their projects with the state.
Using his government staff as campaign support isn’t the only decision raising eyebrows in the early days of the DeSantis campaign. The day after a disastrous, glitch-filled campaign launch on Elon Musk’s Twitter, the governor signed into law a bill that would shield spacecraft manufacturers, including Musk’s company SpaceX, from liabilities in the case of an accident. SpaceX participated in lobbying efforts to secure the bill’s passage.
That DeSantis would weaponize his office to bestow favor — or punish — companies depending on their treatment of him is no unfounded concern. The governor is currently embroiled in a messy lawsuit with Disney, one of the state’s largest businesses. The company argues that the DeSantis administration waged a “campaign of government retaliation” against them after they publicly opposed anti-LGBTQ legislation implemented in Florida.
And with the governor’s office reportedly keeping tabs on who’s donating to his campaign, it’s no surprise lobbyists are panicking. “I have a lot of business in front of the DeSantis administration,” one lobbyist told NBC News. “What the f— am I supposed to do?”