From the outside looking in, it appear fairly obvious that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is planning to announce a run for the White House in 2024, despite the Sunshine State lawmaker’s continued unwillingness to tell us about it.
For DeSantis, the tactic is a simple one: Wait as long as he can to announce, hoping selfishly that the DOJ or Manhattan DA takes legal action against former President Donald Trump, thus giving the Florida Governor a distinct advantage upon entering the fray.
While this move may seem to make serious sense on the surface, the delay is catching flack from a Trump-aligned political action committee.
Make America Great Again Inc. is filing a 15-page complaint Wednesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics, a draft of which was obtained exclusively by NBC News.
It asks the commission to probe whether pro-DeSantis super PACs, his “personally lucrative book tour” and a continued wave of state-level campaign contributions, among other things, “are unlawful because they serve his personal political objectives, are in furtherance of his personal financial gain at the expense of Florida taxpayers, and are intended to influence his official decision to resign from office.”
Since Trump announced in November that he is again running for president, he has grown more publicly hostile toward DeSantis, a former political protégé now expected to be his chief rival in the Republican primaries. That includes branding DeSantis with Trump’s trademark nicknames and trying to frame him as a political moderate out of step with the GOP base.
DeSantis’ team wasn’t having it.
“Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it’s inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes,” said Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director.
So, what exactly were the complaints?
DeSantis is widely expected to run for president but has not yet formally announced. The complaint alleges, however, that he has already checked all the boxes for someone considering a run for the White House, including making stops in early primary states; writing a book (his is titled “The Courage to Be Free”); raising tens of millions of dollars to go into a state-level committee that could be transferred to a federal super PAC; and watching a constellation of supporter-led super PACs and an outside nonprofit group pop up, some with the stated intention of getting DeSantis to run for president.
The pro-Trump super PAC says those steps, when taken together, violate a handful of Florida laws about officeholders’ accepting illegal gifts.
“This letter provides ample evidence to support a finding of probable cause by the Florida Commission on Ethics that Governor DeSantis, in concert with certain associated political committees, political consultants and a 501(c)(4) organization, has solicited and received millions of dollars’ worth of illegal gifts in violation of Florida State ethics laws and the Florida Constitution,” the draft complaint reads.
The feud between Trump and DeSantis has been growing for months, and will almost certainly escalate after these ethics complaints.