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The Top 10 Times Ron DeSantis Refused to Apologize for His Offensive Allies

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"Ron DeSantis and his corporate special interest allies are running an ugly, divisive and dishonest campaign," said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. "But that shouldn't be surprising given the individuals he surrounds himself with. It is time for DeSantis to finally disavow these people and lay out a plan for Florida instead of peddling hatred."


1 – Lourdes Castillo de La Pena

DeSantis's Campaign Coordinator Claimed Brett Kavanaugh's Accuser Was Bitter Kavanaugh Didn't Like Her. According to a Miami Herald column by Fabiola Santiago, "One of the Republican Cuban-American women from Miami defending Brett Kavanaugh on CNN said that she thinks his accuser had a crush on him in high school. Lourdes Castillo de la Peña speculated with a straight face that, suffering from unrequited love, Christine Blasey Ford is now taking revenge on the Supreme Court nominee by alleging a sexual assault to torpedo his Senate approval. It's pure fiction, a classic bad-girl plot straight out of the nightly telenovelas, but it shows the tremendous ignorance about what sexual abuse entails, even among women with enough intelligence to be active in politics. Castillo de la Peña is a Miami-Dade coordinator for Republican Ron DeSantis's campaign for governor of Florida." [Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago column, 9/25/18]

DeSantis Response: "I Am Not Policing People's Comments. They Can Do What They Want." According to the Sun-Sentinel, "Speaking to reporters Monday in West Palm Beach, DeSantis said Peña does not work on the campaign as a "staffer." "This is not a staffer for me at all," he said. "This is somebody who has helped raise money. It's a volunteer. The comments were obviously idiotic, but that has nothing to do with me. I am not policing people's comments. They can do what they want." [Sun Sentinel, 9/24/18]

2 – Dinesh D'Souza

DeSantis Said He Would Not Disinvite Dinesh D'Souza From the Sunshine Summit Because Scrutiny "Comes Down on People on the Right." According to Florida Politics, "When one reporter asks DeSantis for comment on summit guest Dinesh D'Souza, who mocked on Twitter students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were murdered during a February mass shooting, the Congressman responds: 'I disagree with what [D'Souza] tweeted but I would not disinvite him.' DeSantis' rationale is that condemnations and revoking invitations are actions that disproportionately affect those with conservative views. He said there are imbalances in 'scrutiny' if 'you go down this road.' Specifically, it 'comes down' on people on 'the right.'" [Florida Politics, 5/8/18]

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Criticized D'Souza For Mocking Parkland Students. According to an Orlando Sentinel editorial, "Blaise Ingoglia: Florida's Republican chairman made a terrible call — inviting Dinesh D'Souza to speak at the party's annual Sunshine Summit next month in Orlando — than doubled down amid criticism from the state's top GOP leaders. D'Souza, a conservative firebrand, posted tweets mocking student survivors of the Parkland massacre after they reacted with anguish to a state House vote that defeated a proposed assault-weapons ban. 'Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,' was among three toxic tweets. Yuk, yuk. A spokesman for GOP Gov. Rick Scott called D'Souza's comments 'disgusting and unacceptable.' A spokeswoman for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running to succeed Scott, called them 'extremely insensitive and offensive to a community who had just lost their friends, fellow students and teachers in a horrific massacre.' Ingoglia retorted that D'Souza had apologized for his 'mistakes.' But couldn't the chairman have found someone else more deserving of the honor of speaking at the party's annual meeting?" [Orlando Sentinel, editorial, 5/2/18]

Florida Politics Headline: Ron DeSantis: I would not disinvite Dinesh D'Souza. [Florida Politics, 5/8/18]

3 – Joel Greenberg

In August 2018, DeSantis Refused to Return Over $3,000 From a Seminole County Elected Official Who Faced Calls for Resignation Over Islamophobic Rhetoric. According to Florida Politics, "Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg faced calls for his resignation from Muslim leaders after publishing a Facebook post many consider Islamophobic. Greenberg on Saturday posted: 'One Simple question … Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend..' […] And now, politicians connected to Greenberg have faced their own calls to condemn the language. The Florida Democratic Party on Sunday called on Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis to return more than $3,000 in donations from Greenberg, one of DeSantis' most vocal supporters, and to denounce the 'bigoted and divisive rhetoric.'" [Florida Politics, 8/20/18]

4 – Tony Ledbetter

Tony Ledbetter Claimed George Soros Was a "True Nazi," Said of Muslims, "ANIMALS REMOVE THEM FROM OUR COUNTRY." According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, "• On Aug. 12, Ledbetter shared a photo of a pile of old shoes, addressing children who walked out of school in protest of gun-control laws. "These are the shoes of Jews that gave up their firearms to Hitler. They were led into gas chambers, murdered and buried in mass graves. Pick up a history book and you'll realize what happens when (sic) u give up freedoms and why we have them." • In the Facebook group Tea Party, Ledbetter responded to a post in July referring to Islam and Muslims with: "ANIMALS REMOVE THEM FROM OUR COUNTRY." • On Facebook this week, Ledbetter shared a post written by the Volusia County Republican Party secretary Sandy Alvarez calling George Soros — a hedge-fund billionaire who's given millions to Democratic and progressive causes including American Bridge — a "true Nazi" in Germany who is "largely responsible for the invasion of Europe."" [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/5/18]

Ledbetter Received $13,500 in Fees From the DeSantis Campaign. DeSantis Refused to Comment. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, "From May 15 to Aug. 21, Ledbetter was paid a total of $13,500 by the DeSantis gubernatorial campaign for consulting and management, but he says he is not a campaign staffer. The DeSantis campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday." [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/5/18]

Ledbetter Was Paid as a Consultant By the DeSantis Campaign. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, "It is not clear what Ledbetter did for the DeSantis campaign. Department of Elections campaign spending records simply list four payments to Ledbetter for "campaign consulting" and "campaign management." DeSantis defeated Adam Putnam in the GOP primary in Volusia County last week by 28 percentage points. Statewide, DeSantis' margin of victory was nearly 20 points." [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/5/18]

5 – David Bossie

Tampa Bay Times: After on-air racial slur, top DeSantis fundraiser reportedly suspended from Fox News. [Tampa Bay Times, 6/26/18]

DeSantis Leadership Committeeman Bossie Asked a Black Man If He Was "Out of [His] Cotton-Picking Mind" on Fox and Friends. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "Video clips from the Sunday appearance show David Bossie, Trump's former deputy campaign manager, get into heated debate with Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who was also appearing on 'Fox & Friends Weekend.' Bossie and Payne were debating Democrat's assertions that Trump is racist when Bossie asked Payne: 'Are you out of your cotton-picking mind?' Payne is black. Bossie apologized on Twitter later that day:" [Tampa Bay Times, 6/26/18]

Fox Host Ed Henry Immediately Disavowed the Comments. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "The host, Ed Henry, then said on air: 'I want to make clear Fox News and this show, myself, we don't agree with that particular phrase,' Henry said. 'It was obviously offensive, and these debates get fiery. That's unfortunate.'" [Tampa Bay Times, 6/26/18]

DeSantis's Campaign Declined to Comment on Bossie. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "Bossie was one of the big names on DeSantis's national finance team when that group of wealthy donors was rolled out earlier this year. Campaign spokesman David Vasquez declined to comment Monday on Bossie's remark." [Tampa Bay Times, 6/26/18]

The Presidential Coalition Has Donated $20,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis, DeSantis' Political Committee. [Florida Secretary of State Campaign Finance Database, Friends of Ron DeSantis, accessed 6/26/18]

6 – Jim Jordan

Tampa Bay Times Headline: Weeks after allegations surfaced, Ron DeSantis still silent on Jim Jordan. [Tampa Bay Times, 7/18/18]

DeSantis Supported Jordan's Speaker Bid, Despite Allegations He Ignored Sexual Abuse. According to Politico, "Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said in a video released Thursday that he supports for the next House Speaker Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who has been under scrutiny in recent weeks over claims he ignored alleged sexual abuse at Ohio State University when he was an assistant wrestling coach at the school." [Politico, 8/2/18]

7 – David Horowitz

DeSantis Spoke at Four David Horowitz Restoration Conferences in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. According to the Washington Post, "Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country's 'only serious race war' is against whites. DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group's annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues." [Washington Post, 9/9/18]

DeSantis's Official Staff Did Not Respond When Asked If He Agreed With Speakers. According to the Naples Daily News, "DeSantis' congressional staff declined several requests to discuss whether the congressman endorses the views and opinions of his host and speakers at the Horowitz event." [Naples Daily News, 6/22/18]

Verizon Pulled Out of ALEC Over Horowitz Ties—But DeSantis Still Refuses to Condemn. According to the Intercept, "His extremist brand of politics, however, is finally turning into a liability for his GOP allies. On Wednesday, former Rep. Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee for governor of Florida, ducked questions from reporters about his regular appearances at Horowitz-organized donor retreats. Now, Verizon is cutting ties with an influential business alliance, the American Legislative Exchange Council, over the group's decision to host Horowitz as a featured speaker at the ALEC summit in New Orleans last month." [The Intercept, 9/15/18]

8 – Gavin McIness

Last Year, DeSantis Spoke At The David Horowitz Freedom Center Conference In Palm Beach Along With Gavin McInnes, A Controversial Right-Wing Provocateur, Who'd Said He'd Found Himself Become Anti-Semitic After A Visit To A Holocaust Museum In Israel. According to the Sun-Sentinel, "Last year, DeSantis, who recently resigned from Congress to focus on his bid for governor, spoke at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conference in Palm Beach. The list of speakers also included Gavin McInnes, a right-wing provocateur who came under fire for a YouTube video in which he said he found himself "becoming anti-Semitic" during a visit to a Holocaust museum in Israel." [Sun Sentinel, 9/18/18]

9 – Sebastian Gorka

DeSantis Refused to Apologize for Introducing Sebastian Gorka – Who Has Been Accused of Far-Right European Ties – at the St. Lucie County Lincoln Day Dinner. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "'We're in an inflection point in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, and Dr. Gorka has been involved in this for a number of years,' DeSantis said. 'He was involved in really setting the main strategy in the White House under president Donald trump, and I think we have a chance to really win this fight during the Trump administration.' Gorka has been a divisive figure since he became an advisor to Trump. He has hard-line views on Islam and was not particularly well-known to policymakers before he was appointed a year ago to a job with no clear duties, the New York Times wrote last year. He has also been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe. In August, Gorka was forced out of the White House." [Tampa Bay Times, 2/12/18]

The Forward: Sebastian Gorka's Ties To Nazi-Allied Group Stretch Back Decades. [The Forward, 4/24/17]

10 – Steven Alembik

A Republican Activist Who'd Donated More Than $20,000 To DeSantis called President Obama A, "F---- MUSLIM N----" On Twitter. According to Politico, "A Republican activist who donated more than $20,000 to Ron DeSantis and lined up a speech for him at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club recently called President Barack Obama a "F---- MUSLIM N----" on Twitter, in addition to making other inflammatory remarks." [Politico, 9/20/18]

DeSantis Refused to Return Alembik's Money. "Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis' campaign for Florida governor said Thursday he will no longer accept money from a donor who used the N-word in a tweet about former President Barack Obama, but said contributions the donor's company made won't be returned because they were already spent on the primary." [New York Times, 9/20/18]