Report: DeSantis’ Campaign Has Raised at Least $290,000 From Florida Lobbyists

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By Giselle Balido

July 18, 2023

Early DeSantis donors include Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric company, which DeSantis helped negotiate a nearly $5 billion rate increase — the largest rate-hike the state of Florida has ever approved.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised at least $290,000 for his presidential campaign from lobbyists seeking favors from his administration, according to an analysis of the Republican’s first fundraising report by the Seeking Rents newsletter.

DeSantis’ total take from Florida lobbyists could be more than $400,000 if taking into account donations from lobbyists who are registered only to lobby the Florida Legislature, as well as non-lobbyist employees and partners at lobbying firms, and family members of lobbyists.

‘It’s Unethical’

Early DeSantis donors include Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric company. DeSantis helped negotiate a nearly $5 billion rate increase for the company, the largest rate-hike the state of Florida has ever approved. 

Lawn-care giant TruGreen was another contributor to DeSantis’ war coffers. The company pushed for passage of a bill that makes it harder for local communities to limit the use of a pollution-causing fertilizer. Despite pleas from environmental and clean-water activists, DeSantis signed that bill into law. 

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“It is unethical,” Carmen Torres, a longtime Florida activist and Democratic candidate for Florida Senate (D-25) told Floricua. “You have to make an informed decision whether you are going to accept money from these lobbyists and then, they expect something in return. You have to make an ethical decision, a moral decision, of how you’re going to vote moving forward.”

Follow the Money 

DeSantis’ campaign has previously faced scrutiny for donations its received from lobbyists. A recent investigation by NBC News uncovered that officials who work for the DeSantis’ administration — not his campaign — sent text messages to Florida lobbyists soliciting political contributions for DeSantis’ presidential bid

The text messages reviewed included four sent by DeSantis administration officials requesting the recipient of the message contribute to the governor’s campaign. The contributions were made through a link that appeared to keep tabs on who was donating money, leading some observers to believe that the administration seems to be tracking who is giving, and are doing so using state resources.

RELATED: DeSantis’ Presidential Campaign Cuts Staff as New Financial Pressure Emerges

“[This] is walking a very close line to what is ethical and possibly legal,” a Florida lobbyist who preferred to remain anonymous told NBC News. 

Lagging Behind Trump

At this time, DeSantis’ campaign has raised the second most out of the GOP field, with $20.1 million in the first six weeks since launching his campaign in late May. That surpasses the $17.7 million raised by Donald Trump’s principal presidential campaign committee during the entire three-month fundraising period. 

However, after two months on the presidential campaign, DeSantis is still trailing in second place behind Trump in the polls. In response to the plummeting numbers and a high rate of spending, the governor has reduced campaign staff and hit a reset button of sorts. Among the campaign’s changes are a new effort to interact with mainstream media, beginning with a Tuesday afternoon sit down with CNN’s Jake Tapper. Whether those efforts pay off and help boost DeSantis’ campaign remains to be seen. 

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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