Public employees of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been quietly but forcefully soliciting Florida’s deep-pocketed network of lobbyists for donations to their boss’s nascent presidential campaign, a breach of longstanding norms that raises ethical and legal questions about whether DeSantis is permitting his public staff to campaign with public resources.
NBC News reported Thursday that the governor’s staff in Tallahassee is sending around text messages with unique donations links to track contributions as the governor builds on $8.2 million raised in the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign. One recipient of the offer-you-can’t-refuse questioned its appropriateness.
“The bottom line is that the administration appears to be keeping tabs on who is giving, and are doing it using state staff,” a longtime Florida lobbyist said. “You are in a prisoner’s dilemma. They are going to remain in power. We all understand that.”
Typically, a public official like Governor DeSantis relies on private campaign