TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Allies of former President Donald Trump have filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading potential 2024 primary rival, of violating campaign finance and ethics rules with a shadow run for the White House.
The 15-page complaint filed Wednesday by MAGA Inc., a Trump-supporting super PAC, and shared with The Associated Press asks the commission to investigate Florida’s Republican leader for allegedly “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.”
It says DeSantis is “already a de facto candidate for President of the United States,” citing the governor’s meetings with donors, outreach by allies to potential staff and his courting of influential Republicans in early-voting states, among other efforts. The complaint asks the nine-member commission — five of whose members were appointed by DeSantis — to punish the governor by having him suspended from office, publicly censured or fined.
DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske dismissed the accusations and questioned the motives of the complaint. “Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks. It’s inappropriate to use state ethics complaints for partisan purposes,” she said in a statement.
The letter comes as Trump has stepped up his criticism of DeSantis, whom the ex-president’s campaign sees as his most serious rival for the 2024 GOP nomination. Trump has tried to belittle DeSantis with nicknames and has focused on the governor’s past policy positions, including Florida’s early COVID-19 restrictions and his votes on Social Security while he was a member of Congress.
Trump himself faced similar criticism before announcing his own candidacy in November, accused of violating federal campaign laws by raising and spending money for a run ahead of a formal 2024 campaign launch. He was never reprimanded or fined as a result.
While DeSantis has not yet formally announced a 2024 campaign, he is widely expected to do so after Florida’s legislative session ends in May. In the meantime, he has traveled to early-voting states to promote his new book and has met with donors. His team has held informal conversations with prospective campaign staff.
Ethics Commission spokesperson Lynn Blaise said the agency is not allowed to acknowledge any complaints received until a complaint reaches a point where it can be made public.
In addition to the five commission members appointed by DeSantis, the remaining four were appointed by the Senate president and House speaker — both allies of the governor.
Complaints often don’t see the light of day unless released by the person filing it. The commission does not make complaints or material public until they are dismissed or unless probable cause is determined, in order to protect the privacy of its subject.
If the commission finds the complaint is valid, it could issue a fine or a reprimand, but cannot remove an elected official from office. It can recommend the governor suspend an elected official for violating ethics laws, but that would mean DeSantis taking that action against himself if a violation were found.
The process is often used by campaigns to raise questions about an opponent by making the complaint public, although many are resolved or dismissed without the commission finding a violation. It is illegal in Florida to file a complaint with malicious intent and false claims. The commission can fine violators, who can also be ordered to pay a defendant’s legal fees.
Colvin reported from New York. AP National Political Writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.
© 2023 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.
These are two of the best—maybe the two best that can turn this country around. I sincerely hope they will resolve their differences and work together in a harmonious arrangement. This is talent and ability that we cannot afford to lose.
I would hope so too, but I don’t see Trump’s ego allowing this to happen.
I think Trump was a great president, but I think maybe his time has passed. Plus there are still so many Democrats and RINOs that are still consumed by the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their unjustified hatred of Donald Trump, to the point they will abandon all truth, logic and reasoning.
The treasonous, destructive, dishonest, immoral, woke, socialist Democrat Party and their minions will hate and try to destroy Ron DeSantis too, but hopefully not with as much unjustified hate.
In 16, trump WAS the best. BUT NOW DAYS?? In no way, can i ever again, see him as presidential material.. HIS EGO Has hurt him too much.
I don’t see any working together and I don’t even want that. Neither of these men is suited for a secondary role. They are not Mike Pence who isn’t suitable for a leading role, IMO.
What should happen IMO, is a DeSantis candidacy and a Trump retirement. I have a lot of reasons for that but I will just offer one that is a total dealbreaker for me.
Leaving aside all of Trump’s problems with the electorate and other things there is is his age. IMO he is TOO OLD. There comes a time in life when you need to realize that you may not be on earth for 4 more years. For God’s sake, give it up and let a younger man, a very good younger man, take over and help America clean up this mess.
I almost forgot to say that this attempt to claim that DeSantis is unethical is a chicken**** move on Trump’s part.
Trump is only succeeding in dividing the power of Conservatism and cutting his own chances of defeating the 2024 media and party United Democrats who will all fall into lockstep the minute the master Democrat puppeteers pick their next Pinocchio. DeSantis is doing nothing wrong in making the best of opportunities of his elected office to succeed, that Trump failed to do when he got elected, in not going after and jailing Hillary, Schiff, Hunter and Pelosi, using the power invested in him to cut out government disease using the same tactics if needed that Biden now uses against us. Trump is acting like a frightened bully who will strike out at anyone he thinks a threat to his person. Reagan won because he refused to speak ill of another Conservative Republican that opposed him. Trump will lose in failing to do the same, even if he wins the nomination. Speaking and demeaning corrupted RINOs is a lot different than tearing down proven electable men who hold most of the same winning Conservative principles previously and now proven to work. DeSantis is active in office and has the advantage of held office to benefit from putting those winning principles in place which must be frustrating Trump beyond the pale having no government won office or power to perform. Let the best man win, not the most conniving or complaining.
HE’s already lost MY Support..
My waning support of Trump is quickly eroding even more. My concern is that his ego will eventually cause more division. If he doesn’t get the nomination, he can destroy everything by running as an independent. That’s where his ego will take him
Deacon, I hope you’re wrong but I think you are very likely right. If Trump doesn’t win it he will likely burn it down.
Exactly. HIS EGO is not just HIS biggest problem. BUT OURS..
he’s gotten like hillary, in thinking he’s DESERVING Of the presidental slot.. He’s “Entitled” to it.. and he’ll be DAMNED what we the voters say.
Trump was a great president, but is an absolute buffoon when it comes to campaigning. It’s one thing to attack the radical left, it’s quite another though to attack one of our very best. Grow up and put your big boy pants on Mr President and run on your record like a true leader should.
Every time the Left attacks Trump, it makes me want to vote for him.
Every time Trump make this sort of unprovoked attack on a fellow Republican—especially one actively engaged in the war against Western Culture—it makes him look petty and weak, and makes me want to vote against him.
Yesterday, i got an email from one of the “Donate to trump” sites, to which i sent a response back to saying “SORRY not this damn time,, He’s done for, Go away”
If Trump even has an idea that bad mouthing DeSantis is going to help jim, he is 100% wromg. You can say anything you want just about anyone but do this and my vote will more than likely not go to you, not that I am saying it was going to go to you but this makes it even less likely. I am independent voter so my vote is still for the better candidate and who knows it might be the other side if someone else besides biden who will never get my vote. His destruction has gone long enough.
Once again Trump brings drama drama drama! He had my vote but not anymore. If he’d stop the drama and sounding like a carnival barker he would be much better off. I highly doubt that he’ll stop with either one of those things.