Recent reporting from NBC News has accused Governor Ron DeSantis, along with officials in the Executive Office of the Governor of unethical and illegal solicitation of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Subsequent reporting by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has accused the same officials of unethical and illegal solicitation of endorsements for the governor’s presidential campaign during meetings with lawmakers about the state budget.
In response, the Florida Democratic Party has taken the following steps:
On behalf of the Florida Democratic Party, FDP Chair Nikki Fried has filed three complaints against Governor DeSantis’s executive staff with the Florida Commission on Ethics — one each against Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, Legislative Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos, and Director of Policy and Budget Chris Spencer.
In addition, Chair Fried has filed three complaints against the same individuals with the Florida Elections Commission.
“These allegations represent a gross violation of state laws and ethics,” said Chair Fried, “and we could not in good conscience ignore them. If true, they are yet another example of Ron abusing his public office for personal gain. Public officials are employed to serve the people of Florida, not line Ron’s pockets.
“Any reasonable person could infer from the reporting that our Governor was holding the state budget hostage in exchange for political endorsements and donations — actions that are both unethical and illegal. This corrupt scheme to generate fake support for his failing presidential campaign is both a major threat to our democracy and a sad look into the psyche of a man whose ambitions have driven him and his sycophants to lives of crime.
“The complaints system is designed to help prevent this kind of abuse of power, and the people of Florida deserve swift and just rulings from both commissions. Future elected officials need to know that they can’t intimidate and harass people into getting what they want — Ron could use that reminder as well.”