Allies of former President Donald Trump accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of violating ethics and election laws through a “shadow presidential campaign,” according to a 15-page complaint filed Wednesday.
DeSantis has not announced a presidential campaign, though he is widely considered a top contender. NEVER BACK DOWN PAC just launched to encourage Ron DeSantis to run, and on Wednesday, The Daily Signal reported that Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, had endorsed the governor.
NEVER BACK DOWN PAC founder Ken Cuccinelli accused Make America Great Again Inc. and the former president’s allies of playing games by filing such charges.
“The President Trump I knew would never have played these types of establishment games. I’m shocked, but not surprised,” Cuccinelli said on Wednesday afternoon. “During my tenure as attorney general of Virginia, I saw complaints all the time and I can tell when spaghetti is just thrown at the wall.”
“The overwhelming response we’ve received to building a DeSantis grassroots effort is exciting—and I’m sure intimidating,” he added. “No wonder the folks on that campaign are nervous. They should be. The MAGA movement is excited to look to its next chapter and future conservative leadership. They are excited at the potential of a President Ron DeSantis.”
The Make America Great Again Inc. filing, first obtained by NBC News, asks the Florida Commission on Ethics to investigate, as soon as possible, whether DeSantis’ “national political activities beach the public trust.”
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, told The Daily Signal in a statement: “Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks—it’s inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes.”
“This letter provides ample evidence to support a finding of probable cause by the Florida Commission on Ethics that Governor Ron 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 filing said.
“Absent immediate action by the Commission, Governor DeSantis will continue violating the law by accepting additional gifts that are clearly intended by self-interested organizations to influence his official judgment to submit an irrevocable resignation letter as required by Section 99.012(4)(a) of the Florida Statutes,” it added.
Cuccinelli suggested that the filing was in response to frustrations from the former president that his book sold less copies than the Florida governor’s did.
“DeSantis leads the fight against the Woke Left, but Trump wants him removed from office because DeSantis’ book outsold Trump’s book,” Cuccinelli said. “In the words of President Trump: SAD!”
The Florida governor has increasingly drawn Trump’s ire as of late. This week, he heavily critiqued Ron DeSantis, comparing him to Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and joking about calling DeSantis “Tiny D,” according to the Daily Caller.
Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal, where this first appeared. She previously reported for The Daily Caller and The Daily Wire, where she covered national politics as well as social and cultural issues.