The projected opponent to former President Donald Trump’s candidature for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the target of an ethics inquiry requested by a political action committee (PAC) aligned with Trump.
Taylor Budowich, who is in charge of the Make America Great Again Inc. PAC, says that DeSantis has been running a “shadow campaign” for president of the United States, which is against Florida’s “resign to run” law.
The Florida Commission on Ethics was sent a 15-page letter asking them to look into DeSantis’ behavior. The letter goes into detail about the claims, which include worries about how DeSantis raised money and spent money.
To “guarantee a second Trump administration and to promote America First candidates,” as stated on the PAC’s website. The PAC also includes the customary disclaimer required by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which states that it is “not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Reacting to the PAC’s ethical claim, Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, texted The Epoch Times: “Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated charges. To utilize governmental ethics complaints for political gain is unacceptable.
A spokesperson for the ethics commission, Lynn Blais, told The Epoch Times that she could not confirm or deny if a formal complaint had been filed against DeSantis or anybody else.
Whoever files the first complaint with that office will not be told who they are. Nonetheless, she did state that certain commission activities are released to the public.
Undeclared candidate on book tour
Budowich says in his open letter that DeSantis is “already a de facto contender” for president. DeSantis is currently on a tour of several states to promote his new book.
On February 28th, DeSantis kicked off his tour in Florida. Trumps book, “The Courage to be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Restoration,” climbed to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List.
The governor-author visited the early primary states of Iowa and Nevada last week. The book promotion events held by DeSantis in those states were largely interpreted as a prelude to an actual presidential candidature. Trumps to win the Republican nomination for president, candidates need to do well in these states. So they start courting those votes there early and keep at it.
Still, DeSantis hasn’t officially declared his candidature for president. After months of speculation, Trump officially entered the race in November of 2022. Four others, including ex-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy, businessman Perry Johnson of Michigan, and ex-Cranston, Rhode Island, mayor Steve Laffey, have already joined the fray.
But nobody has gotten as much attention as undeclared DeSantis.
DeSantis’s delay to disclose his candidature is “no mere oversight; it is an organized operation especially designed for him to accept, as unethical gifts, unlawful campaign contributions, and certain personal benefits,” according to Budowich’s letter.
On his part, Budowich says that DeSantis’ actions “have rendered him irrevocably conflicted and have left the statehouse unoccupied” as he uses his national book tour as a “cover” for his presidential campaign.
When the Florida legislature is in session, “Governor DeSantis will be on his book tour for much of the session,” Budowich noted. To make sure that DeSantis’ book deal with the publisher doesn’t interfere with his ability to do his job as governor, he wants the ethics committee to look into it.
Trumps resign-to-run legislation creates an obstacle
DeSantis is both the governor of Florida and a possible presidential candidate. This puts him in a tough spot. To “qualify” for a federal position in Florida, a state officeholder must resign from their state office. But, The Epoch Times reports that when that resignation must be tendered is up for debate.
In 2019, DeSantis was sworn in as governor of Florida. He started his second four-year tenure in January. Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez would replace Trumps if he resigned.
“Florida law contains unique and unambiguous limits linked to state officials taking gifts, personally benefiting from outside revenue, and being persuaded into certain judgments,” reads a statement from Budowich’s PAC.
The political action committee says that DeSantis asked for and accepted gifts in exchange for agreeing to run for president and step down as governor of Florida.
The PAC said that these actions “clearly violate state ethics rules, the spirit and the letter of the state’s resign-to-run law, and his promise to the taxpayers of America.”
The PAC wants DeSantis to be taken out of the office and “kicked off any future Florida ballots” if an investigation by the ethics commission finds that he broke the rules.
Opposition grows to proposed law amendment
There have been rumors that some Florida legislators are thinking about changing the “resign to run” rule. This idea has been met with opposition.
Laura Loomer, a political commentator and former candidate for Congress, says that the Citrus County Republican Club just passed a resolution calling for the state’s “right-to-run” law to be strictly enforced.
The plan says that DeSantis should have to serve the full four-year term Trumps was elected to. There’s a clause in the resolution that says no one should be able to get the law amended “to accommodate their political ambitions.”
As a “concerned Florida citizen and voter,” Loomer tweeted that she helped prepare the resolution for Citrus County with precinct committeemen from Lake and Citrus counties.
Loomer tweeted that other counties will pass resolutions urging state lawmakers to reject efforts to change the right-to-run law.
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