- The Florida Democratic Party has filed three Ethics and Elections complaints against high-ranking members of Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive staff.
- The complaints are based on investigative reports alleging that the governor’s staff illegally solicited federal campaign contributions from lobbyists.
- The governor’s press secretary dismissed the complaints as politically motivated attacks.
The Florida Democratic Party on Wednesday filed three Ethics and Elections complaints against high-ranking members of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive staff.
Party Chair Nikki Fried filed the complaints on behalf of the party against DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, Legislative Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos, and Director of Policy and Budget Chris Spencer. In the reports, Fried cited recent investigative reporting efforts conducted by NBC News and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that alleges the governor’s staff illegally solicited federal campaign contributions from lobbyists.
“These allegations represent a gross violation of state laws and ethics,” said Fried, “and we could not in good conscience ignore them. If true, they are yet another example of Ron abusing his public office for personal gain. Public officials are employed to serve the people of Florida, not line Ron’s pockets.”
Upon making contact with the Executive Office of the Governor, DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern told The Capitolist that Wednesday’s filings amount to nothing more than a political attack during campaign season.
“Adding this to the list of politically motivated attacks,” said Redfern. “We know the great work he’s accomplished as governor. If the executive team wants to fundraise, knock doors, or volunteer their free time, more power to them – they have First Amendment rights like every American.”
Fried’s complaint is just the latest against the governor’s political operation after the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a nonpartisan elections watchdog organization, claimed last month that DeSantis’ campaign breached finance laws.
CLC contended that the then-unconfirmed transfer of funds between PACs violates a ban on “soft money” – funds raised in circumstances where federal campaign finance laws don’t apply — due to the money that Friends of Ron DeSantis raised not being subject to federal contribution limits, source prohibitions, and reporting requirements.
The group subsequently filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which states that DeSantis “became a candidate” before the formal commencement of his campaign, and thus not bound by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FEMA) provisions prohibiting candidates and the entities they establish, finance, maintain, or control from spending soft money in connection with federal elections.