Gov. Ron DeSantis can’t run for a third term as Governor. But his campaign committee has raised around $1.8 million after the cutoff for political contributions that could be spent on his re-election campaign.
Only contributions received by campaigns and political committees as of Nov. 3 could be spent on the 2022 election cycle, in which DeSantis defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in a landslide. But the Governor’s political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, still saw plenty of cash flow to its coffers after that point.
More than $1,759,545 in contributions have been reported as received after Nov. 3. That total includes $207,667 received on Election Day, Nov. 8.
Observers have widely speculated that DeSantis will run for President in 2024. He recently headlined the first “cattle call” of Republican candidates, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit in Las Vegas.
While a Florida political committee can only use its resources to influence state elections, it has become a common practice for state candidates seeking federal office to turn over resources to super PACs that can then independently support their candidacies for higher office. While Florida candidates and committees can cooperate, federal law prohibits such collaboration between candidates and super PACs.
Nancy Watkins, Treasurer for Friends of Ron DeSantis, said the committee could not use any money received after Nov. 3 to influence the 2022 election. But unlike candidate campaign accounts, standing political committees can continue accepting donations to support future political endeavors.
Donors may have sent DeSantis’ political committee donations intending to support the Governor’s re-election, even if the checks were received after the Nov. 3 state deadline. But many late donors likely understood the money would end up helping DeSantis’ potential White House aspirations rather than his re-election effort.
Moreover, many of the donors have business taking place in the state of Florida as DeSantis prepares for his second term.
On Election Day alone, the committee reported a $100,000 check received from Manhattan developer Denise Coyle, CEO of The Benjamin Companies. Notably, that company in the last year significantly stepped up plans for Florida investments. The business in February purchased a $145-million Pompano Beach apartment complex, according to the Commercial Observer. Developers also filed plans for a 30-story tower development in Fort Lauderdale to be called The Benjamin, according to Florida Yimby.
DeSantis’ PC also received a $50,000 check from the Miccosukee Tribe, which has a reservation in the Everglades and operates a casino west of Miami.
Other major donors include Walgreens, which played a critical role in vaccine distribution in Florida and which donated $25,000 to the DeSantis committee. The company also reached a $683-million settlement with the state after Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, brought a case against the national company for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic.
The North American Coal PAC also gave $10,000 to the DeSantis committee. That’s notable considering Florida has only marginal coal reserves and no new plants have been opened since 2007 when Crist, during one term as a Republican Governor, issued an executive calling for 40% reductions in carbon emissions by 2025.
Those were just Election Day donations, but the committee reported a number of other major contributions in the week leading into Nov. 8.
Trish Duggan, the top donor for the Church of Scientology, gave $500,000 to the DeSantis committee that was received on Nov. 4. She spearheaded the opening of the Imagine Museum in Pinellas County in 2018.
Jonathan Lubert, founder of investment management firm JL Squared Group and a Naples resident, donated $125,000 reported on Nov. 4.
The Big Easy Casino, a Hallandale-based gambling establishment, donated $100,000 reported the same day.
On Nov. 7, New Port Richey-based hotel management firm Dhruv Management donated $100,000. So did DG Hospitality founder Danny Gaekwad, a trustee for the University of Central Florida whose term expires in January. Georgia construction firm TCI Holdings also donated $100,000. St. Petersburg construction firm Power Design gave $50,000 the same day.
Kelly Mahoney, co-founder of construction firm The Hillpointe Team, gave $75,000 on Nov. 4. New York hedge fund manager Frank Mosier gave $50,000 on Nov. 7.
The committee has reported little in terms of expenditures since the election, with the bulk of reported disbursements including more than $28,000 in credit card fees to Anedot.
But some interesting expenditures show up on the committee’s website that have yet to appear on the state’s reporting website. Some include late campaign-related events, including more than $26,000 in event production costs paid to Renee Dabbs in Tampa and nearly $17,000 paid to Florida Gulf Coast University for facility use paid on Nov. 7, just a day before the election.
But the biggest expense by far was a $500,000 disbursement to TAG, a Washington area event production company. That check was written Nov. 4.