Republican megadonors have poured millions into the campaign of Florida gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis after the gubernatorial candidate became embroiled in controversy over racial comments he made in relation to his opponent Andrew Gillum, an African American.
DeSantis, 39, was a surprise winner of the Republican primary on Tuesday, beating out establishment favorite Adam Putnam. DeSantis unlikely success has been widely attributed to President Donald Trump’s endorsement, which came in late June. The U.S. representative immediately surged in the polls.
Along with the buzz came the money. Forward magazine has reported that cash immediately started pouring into the super PAC — Friends of Ron DeSantis — in support of the candidate. The PAC has raised more than $13 million since January, according to the magazine.
“I think, specifically, President Trump’s endorsement helped provide a lot of grassroots funding to the race, but [DeSantis has] also taken a lot of corporate and special interest money,” said Aaron Scherb, the director of legislative affairs with the non-partisan watchdog group Common Cause, as quoted by Forward. “They’re never contributing just out of the goodwill of their hearts.”
In addition to Floridian megadonors, DeSantis’s has also received considerable donations from out of state. Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, from Las Vegas, both gave $250,000 on July 25. And Silicon Valley real estate mogul Carl Berg kicked in $100,000 on June 29, according to the magazine.
Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes – Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
The former Republican National Committee deputy finance chair, Elliott Broidy, also gave $10,000 in February, before he became embroiled in a scandal involving a hush money payment to a Playboy Playmate.
DeSantis has recently said in an interview with Fox News that, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
It is still unclear whether the racial controversy will have any impact on DeSantis’s appeal to Republican megadonors.
DeSantis’s comments were widely interpreted as racially motivated against Gillum, the 39-year-old mayor of Tallahassee, who also surprised pundits when he snagged the Democratic nomination. Gillum has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
DeSantis was accused of using “dog whistle” racist tactics, and Gillum said he thought his opponent had “decided to pull a page from the Trump campaign playbook” and should “apologize to Florida voters,” he said as reported by the Guardian.
DeSantis told Fox he would not apologize, he “didn’t say anything about race.”
Correction: A previous version of this article reported that allegations involving Elliott Broidy supposedly peddling influence to foreign officials had attracted the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. A law firm representing Broidy has reached out to Inquisitr and denied any connection to the Mueller probe. While the Justice Department has opened an investigation into these allegations, Robert Mueller is not involved. In a statement given to the Washington Post in August, Christopher Clark, an attorney for Broidy, denied these claims.
“Elliott Broidy has never agreed to work for, been retained by nor been compensated by any foreign government for any interaction with the United States Government, ever. Any implication to the contrary is a lie.”