Florida ethics board shuts down Trump’s allegation that DeSantis conducted ‘shadow presidential campaign’
The state of Florida has shut down former President Donald Trump’s accusation that Gov. Ron DeSantis violated ethics rules by conducting an illegal “shadow presidential campaign.”
The Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday dismissed the March filing by Make America Great Again Inc., a Trump-aligned super PAC, saying that the document failed “to constitute a legally sufficient complaint,” Fox News reported.
The MAGA Inc. complaint, filed by former Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich, claimed that DeSantis was “leveraging his elected office and breaching his associated duties in a coordinated effort to develop his national profile, enrich himself and his political allies, and influence the national electorate.”
Budovich’s 15-page letter, which called the governor a “de facto candidate for president,” accused him of violating a slew of state statutes and skirting federal campaign finance laws as he conducted a multi-state book tour while allowing pro-DeSantis super PACs to boost his profile through ads and influence efforts.
But the nine-member commission found that MAGA Inc. presented no evidence that DeSantis illegally “coordinated” with the super PACS, and identified no specific gifts or illegal payments that he received.
“The complaint fails to indicate … that [DeSantis] solicited or accepted anything with an understanding that it would influence an official decision associated with his public office,” the ethics board said in a 12-page report.
Budowich blasted the board’s dismissal.
“It is hardly surprising that another weaponized state entity controlled by DeSantis ignores the facts and the law to protect the Governor,” he told Fox News.
The MAGA, Inc. filing was one of the first major shots taken by Trump and his supporters against DeSantis, a once-close political ally who now looms as the former president’s main Republican rival.
An NBC survey found last week that 46% of GOP primary voters favor Trump as their first choice, with 31% selecting DeSantis — putting both men far ahead of the rest of the GOP field.
But a recent poll showed DeSantis — not Trump — beating President Joe Biden in a potential 2024 matchup.
DeSantis is widely expected to enter the Republican presidential race in May, after Florida’s legislative session ends this week.