Trump allies hit DeSantis with Florida ethics complaint

Trump allies hit DeSantis with Florida ethics complaint
Donald Trump with Ron DeSantis, Melania Trump and Casey DeSantis in 2018, Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump's allies have slapped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with an ethics complaint.

Make America Great Again Inc. will file a 15-page complaint Wednesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics formally accusing the Republican governor of violating state ethics and election laws with his “shadow presidential campaign," according to a draft obtained by NBC News.

"Certain activities related to Governor DeSantis’s ascension to the national stage, insofar as they are funded by a vast network of political committees, non-profit organizations, and prominent political operatives, 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," the complaint states.

The complaint, which is addressed to ethics commission chairman Glenton Gilzean, a DeSantis appointee, claims DeSantis is "already a de facto candidate for president" but had intentionally delayed a formal announcement to get around restrictions in federal election laws.

"Governor DeSantis’s failure to declare his candidacy is no mere oversight; it is a coordinated effort specifically designed for him to accept, as unethical gifts, illegal campaign contributions and certain personal benefits that are necessarily intended to influence his official decision to resign from office under Florida’s resign to run law," the complaint alleges. "Governor DeSantis’s ham-handed maneuverings have rendered him irreparably conflicted and have left the statehouse vacant."

"Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it's inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes," DeSantis' communications director Taryn Fenske told NBC News.

Florida law requires politicians running for a new office to resign if the terms of the two offices overlap, and DeSantis was re-elected last year to a second four-year term, although Republican state legislators have openly discussed changing it to allow the governor to run for president in 2024.

“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.

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