These seven donors each gave Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign more than $1M
Ron DeSantis feels the love from around the country. Image via Fox News.

DeSantis Fox News
From gambling chiefs to space enthusiasts, big money players held massive interest in the race.

In the buildup to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ landslide re-election in November, he saw nearly 66,000 donations roll in from across the country. He raised nearly $171 million through his political committee alone. But not all checks were equal, and nearly half the money came from major donors making six-figure contributions.

The Friends of Ron DeSantis committee, the Governor’s primary fundraising apparatus, raised $170,926,346 to support his re-election.

That tally includes checks and donations received on dates spanning from Nov. 2, 2018 — the first day contributions would fund efforts beyond the Governor’s initial election in 2018 — to Nov. 3, 2022, the last day the committee could cash checks and spend them to support DeSantis’ re-election this year.

Since DeSantis’ official candidate account could only receive individual donations up to $3,000, megadonors turned to the Governor’s PC to offer more significant support.

A total of 300 checks were reported for amounts of $100,000 or more. That made up $82,339,566 of the political committee’s war chest. There were seven donors who gave more than $1 million toward DeSantis’ re-election.

The biggest donor to the campaign was the Republican Governors Association, which spent $20,950,000 propping up one of the nation’s most prominent Governors. That national group is dedicated to electing Republicans to lead state governments and provided plenty of support.

That may have been justified considering DeSantis won election in 2018 by just 32,463 votes. But notably, DeSantis coasted to a second term with a 1,507,897-vote margin of victory.

Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, proved to be DeSantis’ biggest individual donor. He gave $10 million in July. Bigelow’s enthusiasm as a believer in extraterrestrial life garnered significant interest in his political spending this year. Of course, he’s also heavily invested in the space industry, and Florida serves as home to the nation’s major spaceport, Kennedy Space Center.

Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company has developed expandable habitats for use on other planetary bodies such as the moon or Mars. Bigelow has launched two subscale spacecraft, Genesis I and II, into orbit. He also developed the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which has been attached to the Tranquility module of the International Space Station.

Hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin donated $5 million to DeSantis. The majority owner of Citadel announced earlier this year he is relocating America’s largest hedge fund from Chicago to Miami. That has been heralded as a transformational development for South Florida. He dropped his eight-figure check in DeSantis’ coffers in April 2021, setting the tone early for the massive fundraising by the Governor this cycle.

The Club For Growth PAC, a major financial force in conservative politics, gave $2 million to DeSantis in August this year.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida also gave $2 million as it grows its influence in Tallahassee. The Native American tribe has become a gambling goliath in the state, and also owns the Hard Rock brand used on casino hotels and restaurants. As gaming language rose repeatedly as a political issue in the last decade, Seminole giving has grown in force.

DeSantis proved to be a safe bet this election cycle. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino notably also made an in-kind donation worth nearly $20,000 for event space and food for an Oct. 25 event.

Walter Buckley Jr., a philanthropist and political megadonor now living in Palm Beach County, gave DeSantis $1.25 million. The Washington Post recently reported Buckley and wife Marjorie are among the top 50 political donors in the country. He made his contributions to DeSantis in three installments over two years.

Finally, David MacNeil, CEO of WeatherTech, donated just over $1.1 million to DeSantis campaign over five installments starting in May 2021. The auto accessory manufacturer in June purchased a condo at the Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale. That was two years after he purchased a $21-million estate in Wellington.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


16 comments

  • Mr. Haney

    December 13, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    How To Buy A Politician 101

    • ave

      December 13, 2022 at 3:40 pm

      On the computer, my companion mother earns $50 per hour (Personal Computer). She has been out of work for a while, but this month she received a cheque for $11,500 while just working on her own computer for nine hours a day.
      To learn more, see this article————————>>> cash.net2.workers.dev

    • just sayin

      December 14, 2022 at 8:06 am

      As opposed to Democrats, who fund their campaigns with bake sales and girl scout cookies?

      • Lewis Messer

        December 14, 2022 at 5:21 pm

        If you believe that there is a bridge for sale.

    • Arl

      December 14, 2022 at 5:45 pm

      Agree!

  • ave

    December 13, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    hy

  • trump lost

    December 13, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Those that gave multi-million dollars to secure a governor that will protect their wealth from…the elites.

  • Nan Standfast

    December 14, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Well, I am done with Weather Tech. DeSantis is a bully and a wanna be dictator. He’s smarter and more polished than Trump which makes him more dangerous.

    • Arl

      December 14, 2022 at 5:45 pm

      Agree, again!

    • Joyce

      December 15, 2022 at 9:03 am

      Well said. That’s exactly right

  • Irving Schwartz

    December 14, 2022 at 9:35 am

    These donors are all cheapskates compared to Democrat mega donor George Soros.

    • Joe Corsin

      December 15, 2022 at 8:13 am

      Republicans will be the last to get on board with campaign finance reform or anything else good for that matter. Their only function is to keep their stupid party floating so that they can continue to manipulate the deplorables.

  • Brass Biscuit

    December 15, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    Culture warring is very, very, expensive. In order that people remain angry and fearful, no cost is too great.

    • Victoria Schweke Milazzo

      December 19, 2022 at 7:53 am

      Correct. All we see is the pot divisiveness being stirred and no solutions. His followers are buying into his scam of individual freedom. It is Desantis’ own freedom he is protecting ..his way or his dictatorial highway !

  • Tjb

    December 20, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    Why isn’t DeSantis not using his campaign money for the transporting of migrants from Texas to cities in the Northeast.

    DeSantis is using Floridians taxpayers money not allocated for this type of political stunt.

  • Boaz

    December 21, 2022 at 12:00 am

    The reason our Governor may use taxpayers’ money is that the Florida Legislature, all democratically elected, voted to appropriate it to him.

Comments are closed.


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