Top DeSantis donor criticizes Florida governor for prohibiting mask mandates: 'I’ve been frustrated'

Top DeSantis donor criticizes Florida governor for prohibiting mask mandates: 'I’ve been frustrated'

Billionaire hedge fund manager and Citadel Securities founder Ken Griffin has been a major donor to far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking reelection in 2022 and is often mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate for 2024. But in an interview with Bloomberg News on October 4, Griffin was critical of DeSantis' handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis has drawn a great deal of criticism from health experts as well as school officials for a statewide executive order forbidding school districts in Florida from having mask mandates in classrooms. Joe Scarborough, the former GOP congressman and Never Trump conservative who hosts "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, has slammed DeSantis' executive order as "ridiculous, big-government, one-size-fits-all socialism" — arguing that individual school districts in Florida should be able to decide for themselves whether they want mask mandates or not.

Griffin was nowhere near as vehement in his criticism of DeSantis, but he did tell Bloomberg News, during the October 4 interview, "I've been frustrated with his position on masks because it has overshadowed his messaging on vaccinations. He's caught himself up in a political maelstrom of putting the concept of personal freedom first and foremost around masks, and I understand the principle. But Florida's a really diverse state. He should have let each county make a decision on its own."

Griffin, who donated $5 million to DeSantis' 2022 campaign on April 30, believes that his stand against mask mandates could come back to haunt him if he runs for president in 2024.

The Citadel Securities founder told Bloomberg News, "I think that a really great talking point for somebody looking to run for president is to make it clear that you will do whatever it takes to protect our most vulnerable. And I think he's lost that window of opportunity."

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