Florida Democratic Party Chair Files Ethics Complaint Against Governor DeSantis Over Alleged Gift Acceptance Violations

The Florida Democratic Party chair, Nikki Fried, has filed an ethics complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.[0] Fried alleges that DeSantis violated state ethics laws by accepting prohibited gifts from his political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.[1] The complaint stems from the committee’s spending, which Fried claims violated a Florida law that bars spending money on activities that are unrelated to the political work of the committee. Initially established to assist DeSantis in his gubernatorial campaign, the committee was formed.[2]

According to media reports, DeSantis’ top donors and supporters gathered at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach for a three-day retreat, paid for by Friends of Ron DeSantis, as part of an effort to increase his national profile in advance of an anticipated run for the Republican nomination as president of the United States in 2024.[3] The Governor’s spokesperson, Taryn Fenske, dismissed the complaint as a “frivolous & politically motivated attack,” adding that it is inappropriate to use ethics complaints for partisan purposes.[4]

This is not the first time DeSantis has been hit with an ethics complaint.[4] On March 14, the super PAC linked to former President Donald Trump, Make America Great Again Inc., filed a similar complaint against DeSantis, alleging that he illegally received and solicited millions of dollars in gifts “in concert” with political consultants, a nonprofit group, and certain PACs.[4] An ethics complaint filed on Wednesday alleges that a Trump-affiliated group is attempting to intimidate supporters of DeSantis from exercising their First Amendment rights. Ready for Ron, one of the PACs mentioned in the complaint, believes that the allegations are without merit and warrant sanctions.[5]

Fried’s complaint against DeSantis comes as Florida faces some of the highest property insurance and mortgage rates in the state’s history. Fried accused DeSantis of “hobnobbing with special interest donors and lining his pockets with freebies” while Floridians suffer from economic hardship. She added that DeSantis needs to be held accountable for his actions, stating that no one is above the law.[2]

In response to the complaint, DeSantis’ team has brushed off the allegations as politically motivated. However, it remains to be seen whether the Florida Commission on Ethics will take any action against the Governor. The case highlights the growing tensions between the Republican and Democratic parties in Florida, as politicians gear up for the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential elections. With the political landscape in Florida becoming increasingly polarised, it is likely that we will see more ethics complaints and political attacks in the months to come.

0. “DeSantis’ office dismisses Fried’s ethics complaint as ‘politically motivated attack'” Florida’s Voice, 27 Mar. 2023, https://flvoicenews.com/desantis-office-dismisses-frieds-ethics-complaint-as-politically-motivated-attack

1. “Nikki Fried files ethics complaint against Ron DeSantis, cites political committee spending” Florida Politics, 27 Mar. 2023, https://floridapolitics.com/archives/598592-ethics-desantis-fried/

2. “DeSantis draws second ethics complaint over presidential ramp-up” POLITICO, 27 Mar. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/03/27/desantis-presidential-ethics-complaint-00089034

3. “Top Democrat files ethics complaint against Gov. DeSantis” Villages-News, 27 Mar. 2023, https://www.villages-news.com/2023/03/27/top-democrat-files-ethics-complaint-against-gov-desantis/

4. “DeSantis faces ethics complaint over accepting gifts from donors” Business Insider, 28 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/ron-desantis-nikki-fried-ethics-complaint-2023-3

5. “Pro-DeSantis group demands Florida reject Trump-allied PAC’s ‘frivolous’ ethics complaint” Washington Examiner, 28 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaign/pro-desantis-pac-reject-trump-ethics-complaint-florida

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