Former President Donald Trump’s allies have filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics, accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading contender for the 2024 presidential election, of breaking the law regarding campaign funding and ethics by making a covert bid for the presidency.
DeSantis’ office described it as a “frivolous and politically motivated” claim.
The Florida Republican leader is accused of “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,” according to a 15-page complaint filed on Wednesday by MAGA Inc., a Trump-supporting super political action committee.
It asserts that DeSantis is “already a de facto candidate for President of the United States,” noting the governor’s interactions with funders, outreach by allies to prospective employees, and his courtship of influential Republicans in early voting states, among other actions.
According to the complaint, DeSantis should be punished by being forced out of office, receiving a public reprimand, or paying a fee.
The allegation was rejected in a statement by Taryn Fenske, director of communications for DeSantis. “Adding this to the litany of politically motivated and pointless attacks. Use of state ethics complaints for partisan gain is improper, she added.
The letter is being released simultaneously as Trump has intensified his attacks on DeSantis, who the former president’s campaign views as his most significant opponent for the 2024 GOP nomination.
DeSantis’ earlier policy opinions, including Florida’s early COVID-19 limits and his votes on Social Security while he was a member of Congress, have been the subject of Trump’s moniker attacks and attempts to denigrate the governor.
Before declaring his candidacy in November, Trump also came under fire for allegedly breaking the law by raising and spending money for a run before officially launching his 2024 campaign.
He never received a warning or a fine as a result.
DeSantis has not formally declared his bid for office in 2024, but many anticipate that he will after Florida’s legislature session concludes in May.
In the interim, he has visited early-voting states to spread the word about his new book and meet with donors. His team has had casual discussions with potential campaign employees.
According to Lynn Blaise, a spokesperson for the Ethics Commission, the organization is not permitted to recognize any complaints until they have reached the point at which they can be made public.
Five of the nine-member commission’s members were chosen by DeSantis, while the other two were selected by the Senate President and House Speaker, both of whom are the governor’s loyalists.
Unless the complainant releases them, complaints frequently never come to light.
To safeguard the privacy of its subject, the commission does not make complaints or related information public until they are dismissed or until probable cause is established.
The commission may impose a fine or reprimand if the complaint is justified.
Although many complaints are settled or dismissed without the commission finding a violation, campaigns frequently use the procedure to create suspicions about an opponent by making the complaint public.