The national media scrutiny focused on Scott Pruitt, the embattled chief of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, could have a significant impact on U. S. Representative Ron DeSantis and his bid to become the GOP nominee in the 2018 Florida Governor’s Race. The similarities between an accusation leveled at both me are striking. And with DeSantis trailing GOP frontrunner Adam Putnam in fundraising and especially cash on hand, DeSantis may not have the resources he needs to fight back.
The accusations against both men involve renting a condominium from campaign donors or lobbyists. Pruitt is under fire for having potentially rented a condo from the family of a Washington D.C. energy lobbyist at below market rates. The rental agreement required Pruitt to pay $50 per night, which on a monthly basis amounts to about $1,500 in rent. Some argue that is far below market rates in expensive cities like Washington D.C. Pruitt maintains he did nothing wrong, and the White House is standing by him even while digging deeper to make sure there is no impropriety.
But that potential scandal hits very close to home for Ron DeSantis, and the more attention Pruitt gets, the more relevant the charge against DeSantis becomes. POLITICO Florida reported last month that DeSantis rented a condo from campaign donors who are executives at a federal defense contractor. According to online documents, the company has federal contracts worth millions of dollars to provide relocation services to Department of Defense personnel.
After redistricting drew Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis out of his congressional district, he moved into a condo owned by campaign donors who are top executives at a defense contractor that lobbies the federal government, according to property records.
The move was needed after DeSantis dropped his 2016 bid for Senate when GOP Sen. Marco Rubio got back in the race. He decided to seek reelection to Congress, but new maps approved by the courts that year drew his house out of the Northeast Florida 6th Congressional District he previously represented.
The ethics question facing both Pruitt and DeSantis boils down to whether or not they paid “fair market value” for their condominiums. DeSantis has collected $60,000 in political contributions from the contractors, far more than he’s paid in rent back to them.
A spokesman for DeSantis says the congressman only lived in the condo for six months while he looked for a place to live, paying $2,000 per month in rent. An online search for comparable properties yielded only one condo that went for $2,800 per month.
This is only the latest in a series of criticisms leveled against DeSantis that including at least one controversial vote in Congress as well as the accusation that as a prosecutor, DeSantis went soft on child porn traffickers.
But the condo controversy may be different. Detractors are already making political hay over the matter. A radio ad and online video posted at an attack site called “Ron DeSantis Facts” takes him to task over the issue, calling DeSantis a “swamp creature” who, “instead of kicking the bums out of Washington…moved right in with them.” Here’s the ad: