The Washington Post took a deep dive into the travel records of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis between his election and inauguration in 2018, and—spoiler alert—found what looks like corruption. Or, as the Post puts it, he has a “proclivity for luxury travel and leisure time with wealthy donors.”
DeSantis spent a lot of time during his transition flying around on the private jets of some of his biggest donors, which the Post found by using flight manifests and tracking data. He also received some pretty nice gifts and luxury accommodations, none of which he disclosed as gifts or campaign contributions as required by Florida ethics rules. (Yes, Florida has ethics rules for officials. Go figure.)
DeSantis had the alternative option of reimbursing donors for the loot. And the Post notes, “A DeSantis spokesman said he complied with regulations but declined to specify how the costs of the trips were paid or how they met ethics and disclosure requirements.”
One major donor, Mori Hosseini, lent a golf simulator to the governor's mansion. He also flew DeSantis to the Augusta National Golf Club where he played a few rounds with big donors, and spent a night in “the club’s Eisenhower room.” Hosseini, a prominent developer in that state, “later benefited from $92 million in federal pandemic funding that the DeSantis administration steered to a highway interchange project he sought.” Another developer, John Cwik, provided four undisclosed flights to DeSantis.
One of DeSantis’ donor friends on that golfing trip was Fred Ridley, a Tampa-based lawyer who is also the chairman of Augusta. DeSantis installed Ridley on the University of Florida Board of Trustees in 2021. He reinstated Hosseini as the director of that board the same year.
Golf, grift, selling access. DeSantis must be baffled that all of his efforts to emulate former President Donald Trump are still failing to give him traction with Republican voters. Maybe he should have been aiming for the Supreme Court instead. He’d fit right in.
His campaign tried to deflect, saying this story is just “Trump-legacy media collusion,” which resulted in this rejoinder from the Trump campaign: “Instead of pointing fingers and trying to place blame on others — like they have historically done — the DeSantis’ should take a good, hard look in the mirror to better understand why they chose to act unethically and sell access to their office.” It’s the best part of the story.
You can’t make this stuff up.
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Want to skip school, get free Disney passes? Move to Florida and thank DeSantis