Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination for president, failed to disclose multiple high-end trips, stays and other gifts from wealthy benefactors, a new report from The Washington Post details.
The report showcases how DeSantis embarked on at least six separate trips on private planes that he did not disclose on campaign finance forms. The trips took place nearly five years ago, after DeSantis won his first term to the governor’s office but before he was inaugurated.
Aides to the then-governor-elect were well aware that he was required to document the gifts he received from wealthy donors. DeSantis’s campaign lawyer at the time expressed to his transition team in a memo that he was “required to report with the Ethics Commission all direct and indirect gifts accepted that are worth over $100,” The Post reported.
The trips and other gifts that DeSantis received cost well above that threshold. In one example detailed by the paper, Mori Hosseini, a major home builder in the state (who also donated a golf simulator to DeSantis) paid for the governor-elect to travel to the highly exclusive Augusta National Golf Club. DeSantis also stayed overnight in the club’s Eisenhower Room at Hosseini’s expense.
As governor, DeSantis aided the multi-millionaire in a major way, directing $92 million of leftover COVID-19 federal relief funds to help pay for a highway interchange that directly benefited a housing project of Hosseini’s. The DeSantis administration has claimed that the decision to fund the interchange had nothing to do with the governor’s connection with Hosseini — a claim that critics found unlikely.
“What did he promise them on the golf course? Deregulation? Tax cut? There’s a reason these things have to be disclosed,” Nick Knudsen, executive director at DemCast, said in reaction to the report.
The Post also noted that DeSantis received additional gifts in the form of four other flights on a private jet owned by another one of his donors, John Cwik. Cwik maintains that he doesn’t know how the flights were paid for.
A spokesperson for DeSantis claims that the governor complied with government regulations regarding gifts from political donors. However, that individual refused to elaborate on how DeSantis was not in violation of those laws.
DeSantis is currently floundering in polls on the GOP primary races. Although he is second place in many surveys, he is dozens of points behind frontrunner Donald Trump, who is seeking to secure the Republican nomination for president for the third time in as many election cycles.
Trump has also engaged in corruption, including continuing to receive income from his businesses during his time as president, with guests (both foreign and domestic) often renting his properties with hopes of influencing his decision-making. But it’s possible that the former president’s supporters will use the recent reports about DeSantis to discredit his campaign months before the nominating contests are set to begin.
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