Ron DeSantis blasts Nikki Fried’s pay-to-play claim as ‘baseless conspiracy’
Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried.

DeSantis Fried
Fried claimed, without evidence, that DeSantis has a board appointment quid pro quo.

Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected claims by a potential 2022 opponent that key board spots were pay to play gigs for major donors.

Friday in Ocala, the Governor responded to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried‘s assertion (made without tangible proof) that there was a tie between political donations and spots on prominent education boards in the state, saying it was a “baseless conspiracy charge.”

“OK, you can look up everyone who I’ve appointed. So we have however many universities, however many state colleges. And you could look to see based on their record. And it’s obviously false on its face. It would require probably 20 minutes of investigation to be able to do that. So it’s yet another baseless conspiracy charge that’s thrown around. And it’s obviously not true,” DeSantis told reporters after an event highlighting COVID-19 treatments.

Fried said Tuesday night that state university trustees were required to donate $100,000 to Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ campaign or they would not be reappointed. Yet she provided little to back that up other than anecdotal examples of some big donors serving on university boards.

Fried, while participating in a virtual forum with Democratic rivals U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Sen. Annette Taddeo, said: “Our current boards of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000. And if they didn’t give him the campaign contribution, they were not reappointed to the boards.”

Fried’s campaign spokesman, Drew Godinich, defended the claim when asked by Florida Politics about it.

“DeSantis’ appointments are stacked with his biggest donors — and the Boards of Trustees are no different,” he said Wednesday. “She stands by her comments from last night, and I think it’s very clear that there’s a quid pro quo to obtain those appointments.”

Some donors on the University of Florida Board of Trustees, the board that Fried specifically seemed to be referencing, did reach a six-figure contribution threshold.

Chair Morteza “Mori” Hosseini‘s company, ICI Homes, has donated $106,000 to DeSantis’ Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee and another $158,000 to the Republican Party of Florida over the current, 2020 and 2018 election cycles, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

UF Trustee Rahul Patel has donated $170,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis and $55,000 to the RPOF during those three cycles. UF Trustee James Heavener has donated $250,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis and $25,000 to the RPOF, while his Silver City companies have donated $65,000 to the RPOF. UF Trustee Richard P. Cole donated $60,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis and $50,000 to the RPOF. UF Trustee Anita Zucker has donated $105,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis.

Other members of that board donated nothing, however.


Florida Politics’ Scott Powers contributed to this post. 


A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • zhombre

    December 17, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    The individual on the UF board are individuals of significant accomplishment and graduates of the university. This is Fried blowing smoke as her campaign for the nomination fizzles out.

    • zhombre

      December 17, 2021 at 12:40 pm

      * The members of UF board appointed by DeSantis …

  • Impeach Biden

    December 17, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Desperate measures from a desperate woman. She’s toast. Her personal attacks against probably the finest Governor in the nation backfired. I’m glad her face is off the gas pumps and I am looking forward to the removal of her name as well.

  • Frankie M.

    December 17, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    DeSantis is an expert on baseless conspiracy theories. I tend to believe him.

  • Sister Billie Jean Immaculata, Saint Rorschach High Girls Academy

    December 17, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    I agree that Commissioner Fried should not have made the accusation without proof to back it up immediately. No one should have to investigate this for her when she claims to know the truth. Good heavens.
    On the other hand, it is rich — rich, I tell you — to hear Ron DeSantis get his pants in a wad over “yet another baseless conspiracy charge that’s thrown around.” You can’t emulate, defend, and suck up to Donald Trump and then complain about “baseless conspiracy” charges. You either eat shit and claim you love it — as he’s done for Trump — or spit it out and call it what it is. He hasn’t spit it out, and I reckon Fried’s shit is just as tasty as Trump’s, so my message to DeSantis is eat shit, and bless your heart.

    • Tom

      December 17, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      Sista you sound itchy, you know what I mean. Get some relief. Just take the gown off and slip out to a watering hole. Sit at the bar and uncross legs. Your itchiness needs some relief.

      • Herb

        December 20, 2021 at 7:32 am

        Now Tommy. Ya followed the lunatic mode perfectly. MTG and Goetz would be proud of you.

        • Tom

          December 20, 2021 at 3:59 pm

          Hey Erb, you Manchurians think you can decide. I am legend, you must deal in facts with me. Not liberal Manchurian conjecture. Not sure what you are referencing. I walk my own path. As for you and your party, you all are on the mountain top edge with one leg Off. Enjoy the drop.

          Nov/22 will be devastating, 50 House seats, 6 senate seats. Deantis, America’s Gov wins bigly.

          • Tom

            December 20, 2021 at 5:59 pm

            If you want to defend the Sista feel free. Be her pimp erb.

  • Alex

    December 17, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    So they did contribute at least $100K.

    She’s not wrong.

    Time for an investigation of the facts.

    Oh I forgot.

    Republicans only believe in alt-facts, or “Tucker/Trump said so”

  • Tom

    December 17, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    A.G., if you would appropriately list the specific years the contributions were made that would be reasonable. It comes across as if one
    contribution was made at a time. So bad.

  • Tom

    December 17, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Lies, slander and no facts. The cannabis queen bong a thon. Really dumb Manchurians above.
    America’s Governor the best.

    • Impeach Biden

      December 19, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Keep on typing Tom.

  • Herb

    December 20, 2021 at 7:34 am

    You can see yourself dimwit. That’s right. A simple google search is too much work.

    • Tom

      December 20, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Dimwit erb.
      You have nothing.
      Clown show in DC Biden/Harris.
      How many times can he refer to Harris as President. 4x one speech.
      Clown show for Dem Gubernatorial nominee. Fraudster, Crispy critters and Tarantula.

      America’s Governor, the best!
      Tallahassee Gov mansion, to DC, WH.

  • Tom

    December 20, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    Nikki Fraud, Impeach this incompetent, pathetic fraudster ag commissioner. Pass the bong, cannabis queen.

    Herb, you are the dimwit. No one defends this incompetent fraudster Nikki, but you came to the rescue.

    America’s Governor will defeat all three combined. We can only hope she wins nomination. What a blowout, monumental Desantis win. If she is not impeached first!

  • Mateo

    December 20, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    If the feds bring down crime boss Ron, it won’t be the UF sleaze, it will be the connection between him, the airport, and Greenberg’s associates in his history-making crime spree.

    • Tom

      December 20, 2021 at 3:37 pm

      Coming from name Mateo, that’s substantive. As if either mentioned is credible. Ignorant!

      • Mateo

        December 20, 2021 at 5:14 pm

        Don’t worry about what Mateo thinks. Worry that the strings between Artiles, Ballard, Trulieve and Greenberg look credible as a RICO case to Merrick in a way that he’s obviously not making it a political attack.

        • Tom

          December 20, 2021 at 5:56 pm

          The incompetent Merrick.
          Yeah AG who sent the G men after school moms and dads.
          He’s on the impeachment list, with shifty scum bag Schiff and others.
          50 House seat flip in November.
          You got nothing.

          • Mateo

            December 20, 2021 at 10:11 pm

            Ingersoll is long piece of yarn on a tattered sweater, and Morgulis and Wead were some old threads.

        • Tom

          December 21, 2021 at 9:40 pm

          Major drug user San Mateo.
          Call Nikki Fraud, pass the bong!!

Comments are closed.


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