Friday’s report noted that according to the Q1 2023 expenditure report of the Florida Republican Party, the party is presently paying approximately two dozen campaign employees for the 2022 campaign of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
The Daily Caller reports that although the governor of Florida has been evasive about his presidential ambitions, his actions tell a different story. The filings of the state GOP with the office of Secretary of State Cord Byrd reveal that the party has paid 24 current or former employees of DeSantis’ campaign, including his former press secretary.
Overall, and despite not explicitly challenging front-runner former President Donald Trump, DeSantis appears to be preparing for a potential presidential run, according to the outlet.
The Florida GOP’s hiring of speechwriter Nate Hochman and former DeSantis congressional aide Dustin Carmack was previously disclosed, but the DeSantis campaign’s broader staffing strategy was not.
The news organization was informed of the additional hires when a Florida Republican staffer using an email address with the rondesantis.com domain claimed to be conducting business for the state GOP.
According to campaign filings with the Secretary of State’s office, the DeSantis campaign contributed nearly $9.6 million to the state Republican Party in 2022. The campaign paid the party over $200,000 as a vendor during the first quarter of 2023. According to records, the state GOP returned $3 million to Friends of Ron DeSantis, the official DeSantis campaign committee, in the first quarter of 2023.
Christian Ziegler, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, told the news outlet that the Florida Republican Party supports DeSantis “just as any state party does for the sitting Governor of their state.”
“As for the speculation about potential Presidential campaign staff, I haven’t had discussions with the governor about that,” he noted further in a statement.
Two GOP insiders, however, dismissed Ziegler’s explanation.
A Florida Republican operative familiar with the DeSantis team’s relationship with the state GOP told the Daily Caller that “it is an open secret that they’re running the campaign out of the Florida GOP.”
“Anyone with eyes can see what they’re doing,” a Republican operative who worked on a different 2022 gubernatorial campaign told the Daily Caller.
State election laws in Florida permit statewide candidates to accept unlimited funds from political parties for a variety of purposes, such as polling and research services, campaign staff expenses, consulting fees, and phone calls. The DeSantis campaign contributed nearly $9.6 million to the state GOP in 2022, and the party paid the campaign over $200,000 as a vendor during the first quarter of 2023. Additionally, at least five campaign staffers for Attorney General Ashley Moody were listed on the filing for the fourth quarter of 2022, and three of them remain on the state GOP payroll, according to the publication.
“They’re allowed to do this under Florida state law, but it’s certainly very odd to have them paying for staff this late,” a GOP strategist who is familiar with the state’s election laws told the outlet.
All 24 DeSantis campaign employees listed on the first quarter payroll of the Florida GOP worked on the 2022 campaign. However, recent employees such as Carmack and Hochman were omitted from the payroll list. According to the business contact platform LinkedIn, seventeen of the twenty-four employees currently work for Ron DeSantis for Governor.
“Overall, the Florida GOP retained 41 employees in the first quarter of 2023, down from 76 in the fourth quarter of 2022. Several departing employees, including former DeSantis campaign staffers, remain contracted with the party as consultants, while others have joined the state legislature or DeSantis’ executive office, according to the Daily Caller.
More on this story via Conservative Brief:
DeSantis has made trips to early primary states such as Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire, under the guise of promoting his new book. During these trips, he has also met with major Republican Party donors, emphasizing his no-nonsense approach to governance. In an interview with Piers Morgan, DeSantis highlighted his administration has “no daily drama, focus[es] on the big picture and put[s] points on the board.” CONTINUE READING…