DeSantis’s Taxpayer-Funded Office Solicits Backing for 2024 Campaign

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis begins his presidential bid, his administration officials have solicited donations from lobbyists and endorsements from state lawmakers, allowing his taxpayer-funded office and The line between his political campaigns has been blurred.

The outreach by the governor’s office, which normally goes to Mr. DeSantis’ campaign staff, was described by two people who said they had been contacted by administration officials and who spoke on condition of anonymity. insisted on In at least one case, a member of Mr. DeSantis’ administration sent a text message to a lobbyist with a link to his presidential fundraising platform.

NBC News First reported Pleas for lobbyists

Those contacted spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the governor’s office and insisted that government officials not be named so as not to reveal their identities.

Representatives for Mr. DeSantis’ office and campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. DeSantis has yet to sign at Florida. $117 billion budgeton which he maintains a line-item veto — meaning he can kill spending plans sought by lobbyists and lawmakers in the capital, Tallahassee, with the stroke of a pen, where he has a strong hold on the Republican-controlled Legislature. Controlled.

According to two people familiar with the matter, access to the lobbyist gave the impression that the donations would be traced through the governor’s office.

In addition to lobbying efforts, the main super PAC backing Mr. DeSantis’ bid announced last week that 99 of Florida’s 113 Republican state legislators Endorsed by Mr. DeSantis. for the president. Several lawmakers have said privately that they fear they could veto their bills or spending plans if they don’t support them. Two said they had been approached by members of the governor’s administration about being endorsed.

As governor, Mr. DeSantis is Tried to increase the power of his office. And he has relied on the spectacle of political revenge, cajoling lawmakers to do his bidding or face substantive challenges. Targeting corporations like Disney With whom he has quarreled.

The unusual access to lobbyists and lawmakers underscores the careful line that Mr. DeSantis and his allies must walk as they seek the nation’s highest office while governing his third-largest state.

Under Florida law, state employees are generally allowed to participate in political campaigns if they do so on their personal time, with their personal equipment and without reference to their official duties or authority, among other factors. are

Ethics experts said more scrutiny of accounts by DeSantis administration officials helping his campaign — but members of the Florida Commission on Ethics, which investigates allegations of ethics violations by public employees — is needed. See, has been appointed by Mr. DeSantis and his allies in the Legislature. .

“This conduct raises very serious and important questions,” said Anthony V. Alfieri, founding director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service at the University of Miami School of Law.

Florida elections lawyer Juan Carlos Planas said the governor’s administration staff and political team must maintain clear boundaries.

Mr. Planas said that the government should not be overtly political. “People have to be able to deal with the government knowing that the campaign is a separate entity. When you start blurring the line, it becomes autonomous.”

Mr. DeSantis has made urgent efforts to raise funds for his campaign to take on former President Donald J. Trump, who boasts an army of small donors. On Thursday, Mr. DeSantis’ campaign said he had a A record $8.2 million In the first official day of his run for the White House. A significant dollar amount helped quiet his criticism. Announcement of campaign full of errors On Twitter the day before.

At least some of the grunt came from Florida lobbyists. Many lobbyists and their clients have plans within the state budget that Mr. DeSantis could choose to veto — giving him a clear incentive to contribute when asked. Several state lobbyists attended a fundraising session with Mr. DeSantis at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami on Thursday.

With the event, known as Ron-O-Rama, Mr. DeSantis raised nearly twice as much money as Mr. Trump in the 24 hours after his criminal indictment this year. The amount broke the previous one-day record of $6.3 million set by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2019.

Mr. DeSantis is also under pressure to wrest a key Republican endorsement from Mr. Trump, who scored one. An early victory By winning the support of a majority of Florida Republicans in Congress last month.

Maggie Haberman And Patricia Mazzee Cooperation reporting.

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