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DeSantis Vows to Veto GOP Bill to Pay Trump’s Legal Fees With Taxpayer Money

The bill was filed earlier this month by Sen. Ileana Garcia and would allow Florida to give Trump up to $5 million.

Then-President Donald Trump exits from the stage after speaking about the environment during a stop at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hands out pens to people in the crowd on September 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Florida.

A plan spearheaded by some Florida Republicans to use taxpayer funds to assist former President Donald Trump in covering fees tied to his numerous legal woes was ditched after Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would veto the proposal, per Politico.

The bill was filed earlier this month by Sen. Ileana Garcia, R-Fla., for this year’s legislative session, and could allow Florida to give Trump up to $5 million as he navigates four criminal indictments at the federal and state level as well as a second defamation trial with writer E. Jean Carroll. Politico reported that the proposed legislation, which would give money to presidential candidates who were Florida residents, had already received backing from Florida’s Republican chief financial officer and a member of DeSantis’s Cabinet, Jimmy Patronis.

“It’s in Florida’s best interest to make sure their champion for the President is allowed a fair shot at the White House without being taken down by some fake witch hunt,” Patronis said Monday, per The Washington Post.

Patronis also alleged that having taxpayers pay for Trump’s legal bills was a financially sound move.

“If we can help and support a Florida candidate for the White House, that’s just good from a dollars and cents perspective,” he said, according to Politico. “From all the decisions the federal government makes with regard to military installations, to roads, to disaster aid — it’s in Florida’s best interest to make sure their champion for the President is allowed a fair shot at the White House without being taken down by some fake witch-hunt. Moreover, if Governor DeSantis makes another run at it, he has said that he too could face the same legal headwinds that President Trump is facing.”

Garcia on Monday said in a release disseminated by Patronis’ office that “we’re in the midst of an historic moment where we’re watching an election that’s trying to be stolen by left wing prosecutors, the Biden Administration and even Blue States. They’re not trying to win at the ballot box; they’re trying to keep President Trump off the ballot by weaponizing the courts. Having a Floridian in the White House is good for our state — and anything we can do to support Florida Presidential candidates, like President Trump, will not only benefit our state, but our nation.”

But by Monday night, Garcia stated that she would withdraw the bill after DeSantis, who on Sunday announced the suspension of his 2024 presidential campaign, took to X/Twitter to express his opposition.

“Some Florida Republicans want taxpayers to pay Trump’s legal bills,” the governor wrote. “But not the Florida Republican who wields the veto pen.”

“This bill was filed on January 5th amidst a crowded primary, including two Florida residents,” Garcia tweeted in response to the governor. “My concern was the political weaponization against conservative candidates, and while @JimmyPatronis brought me this bill at a time when all candidates were committing to campaign through the primary, one frontrunner now remains, and he can handle himself. I will be withdrawing the bill.”

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, in a statement forwarded by her office, told Politico, “President Trump has the means to cover his legal expenses; however, many people do not, which is Senator Garcia’s concern.”

“You should reach out to Senator Garcia about her bill,” Passidomo added. “She does a great job. It is not helpful or necessary for me to weigh in on every bill.”

As Politico noted, despite DeSantis’ rejection, the future of the bill remained decidedly murky — “There was no House companion to the bill, and it was not something that Republican legislative leaders have been promoting during the start of this year’s session.”

Democrats sharply condemned the bill, blasting it as “a disgrace.”

“What this shows you is who the Florida GOP is loyal to because it’s certainly not the people of Florida,” wrote Nikki Fried, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, in a text to Politico. “Senator Garcia’s victim-card bill is a disgrace and should inflame any Floridian who cares about where their tax dollars are going.”

In response to DeSantis’s public disapproval of the legislation, Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Fla., tweeted “Absolutely not.”

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