Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Political Committee Transfers $82.5 Million to Pro-DeSantis Super PAC, Raising Concerns About Campaign Finance Law Violations

The political committee once controlled by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has transferred $82.5 million to a super PAC supporting his presidential campaign, according to information posted on the committee’s website. The Empower Parents Political Action Committee (PAC), which was previously known as Friends of Ron DeSantis, transferred the funds to Never Back Down, a pro-DeSantis PAC created to support his presidential campaign.[0] The transfer has raised concerns about the legality of such campaign finance maneuvers, with watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that DeSantis had unlawfully directed the money into a super PAC, which is supposed to operate independently of candidates. The group contends that the transfer of tens of millions of campaign donations from a state political committee to a federal super PAC violates campaign finance law.

The transfer occurred on May 31, and the Florida Division of Elections confirmed that the Empower Parents PAC was closed by May 30.[1] At that time, the state’s campaign finance records did not show the $82.5 million.[1] DeSantis has disassociated himself from his state committee in recent weeks, with his chairperson stepping down and a new chairperson, state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a DeSantis ally, now overseeing the leftover funds.[2] The committee changed its name to Empower Parents PAC and says on its website that it “supports the national advancement of issues and candidates committed to protecting parental rights in education.”

The transfer of such a significant sum of money to a super PAC supporting DeSantis’ presidential campaign has raised questions about the influence of money in politics and the role of super PACs in elections.[2] Super PACs can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money to support or oppose candidates, as long as they do not coordinate directly with the candidate or their campaign. This has led to concerns about the potential for outside groups to have an undue influence on elections and the political process.

The FEC complaint filed by Campaign Legal Center alleges that DeSantis directed the funds to Never Back Down, which is supposed to operate independently of his campaign, in violation of campaign finance laws. The complaint calls for an investigation into the matter and for appropriate enforcement action to be taken if wrongdoing is found. It is unclear at this time what action, if any, the FEC will take in response to the complaint.

The transfer of $82.5 million from a state political committee to a super PAC supporting DeSantis’ presidential campaign highlights the role of money in politics and the potential for outside groups to have an outsized influence on elections. As the 2024 presidential election approaches, it is likely that we will see more money flowing into super PACs and other outside groups in support of various candidates. The question remains whether such activity will be deemed legal and ethical, or whether it will be seen as a threat to the integrity of the political process.

0. “DeSantis state PAC shuffles $82.5 million to national campaign amid FEC complaint” The Capitolist, 12 Jun. 2023, https://thecapitolist.com/desantis-state-pac-shuffles-82-5-million-to-national-campaign-amid-fec-complaint/

1. “DeSantis gets stash of $82.5 million for his presidential race, due to campaign finance maneuvers” Florida Phoenix, 13 Jun. 2023, https://floridaphoenix.com/2023/06/13/desantis-gets-stash-of-82-5-million-for-his-presidential-race-due-to-campaign-finance-maneuvers/

2. “DeSantis’ former state political committee transfers $82.5 million to allied super PAC” CNN, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/13/politics/desantis-money-super-pac-transfer/index.html

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