Florida Dems condemn Moms for Liberty co-founder’s appointment to Ethics Commission
Image via AP.

Tina Descovich AP
‘Tina Descovich is nothing but a puppet for the MAGA Republican Party.’

Suffice it to say the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is not happy with Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich’s appointment to the Florida Ethics Commission.

Less than a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis named Descovich and lawyer Luis Fuste to the nine-member commission, which investigates alleged breaches of trust by public officials, the party released a statement condemning the move.

“Ring the alarm bells,” FDP Chair Nikki Fried said. “Tina Descovich is nothing but a puppet for the MAGA Republican Party. When she’s not salivating over removing school board members from office on Ron’s ‘hit list’ or orchestrating book bans, her PAC is taking funds from public officials who she is now charged with overseeing.”

The “hit list” to which Fried referred is a group of 14 School Board members in Florida whose seats DeSantis, Descovich, Moms co-founder Tiffany Justice, House Speaker Paul Renner and others are targeting in the 2024 election.

The Florida Division of Elections shows Moms for Liberty has received $2,000 from Palm Bay Rep. Randy Fine, $1,000 from Merritt Island Rep. Tyler Sirois and $100 from former House candidate Dorcas Hernandez.

Conservative for Good Government, the political committee of Vero Beach Sen. Debbie Mayfield, paid Moms for Liberty $2,000. Gerry James, a former pro wrestler who is again running for Senate District 7, paid the Flagler County chapter of the group $100.

All are Republican. The payments, made in 2021 and 2022, were for event sponsorships and advertising.

Image via Florida Division of Elections.

But FDP Communications Director Eden Giagnorio told Florida Politics that the actual amount of money the group has taken from politicians is more than what’s been reported.

“It’s no secret that Moms for Liberty receive contributions from Republican lawmakers that are often not disclosed,” she said by text. “It’s also worth noting that GOP Chair Christian Ziegler’s wife is one of the co-founders and he gets money from them too — so it is what it is.”

State campaign finance records show that in August 2022, Moms for Liberty paid $21,358 to Microtargeted Media, a Sarasota-based political advertising firm Ziegler owns and founded in 2016.

His wife is Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, who co-founded Moms for Liberty and was the organization’s director for its first month. The group contributed $250 to her successful re-election bid in July 2022.

Zielger, along with Descovich and Justice — both former School Board members — launched Moms for Liberty in January 2021 to fight mask mandates and curriculums with focuses on LGBTQ rights, race, discrimination and the use of certain terms in schools.

The group has seen numerous policy successes, including an expansion of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which now prohibits LGBTQ-inclusive instruction in public schools through 12th grade and eased book-challenging processes. Moms for Liberty sought to expand it through eighth grade, but the state Board of Education extended the ban through high school.

But it’s also drawn censure from progressives and civil rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which labeled it an “extremist” group.

On Wednesday, Descovich told Stella Escobedo of One America News Network that Moms for Liberty is “working with one of the best law firms in the country” to explore suing the SPLC.

“It’s drawn a huge target on the backs of every mom that stands up at a school board meeting and speaks out for her children,” she said.

In June, an Indiana chapter of Moms for Liberty received national attention after its newsletter, “The Parent Brigade,” featured a front-page quote from Adolf Hitler.

“He alone, who OWNS the youth, GAINS the future,” the quote said. The group removed the quote from the newsletter after a screenshot of it spread across social media, and the chapter’s Chair, Paige Miller, later issued an apology.

Justice addressed the issue in a speech at the group’s annual summit in Philadelphia a week later.

“One of our moms in a newsletter quotes Hitler,” she said. Several members of the crowd whooped in approval. “I stand with that mom,” she added, to raucous applause.

“But to stand with the communists, to stand with Hitler, to stand with that — that’s not who we are, and we know that,” she continued. “So, they’re going to come for you. They’re going to say stuff. They’re going to be in your face.”

DeSantis has embraced the group and previously appointed Duval County member Esther Byrd to the Florida Board of Education.

He rallied against transgender athletes, preferred pronouns, Disney and drag queens “coming for your kids” during its summit this summer. First Lady Casey DeSantis, who spoke to the group last year, formed the Mamas for DeSantis campaign group that helped the Governor easily win re-election in November. There’s now a national version supporting DeSantis’ run for the White House.

The DeSantises are hardly the only politicians showing Moms for Liberty support. Former President Donald Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — three of the Governor’s GOP Primary opponents — also spoke at the group’s summit this year.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, another Republican presidential hopeful, defended the group following the SPLC designation in June.

Last week, Scott unveiled his “Empowering Parents Plan” that among other things targets the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Lawmakers eliminated any possibility of critical race theory in Florida schools through DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE Act,” which has since led to controversial changes in the state’s African American history curricula, including guidance that students should be taught that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Following news of her appointment, Descovich wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “The Florida Ethics Commission is charged with serving as the guardians of the standards of conduct for public officers and employees as well as safeguarding public trust. It will be a privilege to serve the state I love as a member of this commission.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Ocean Joe

    September 7, 2023 at 4:43 pm

    Brevard County is our own little slice of Alabama.

  • Rick Whitaker

    September 7, 2023 at 4:52 pm

    so what about the “moms against fascist” group? surly the sane people of desantistan have a group like that. money would pour in if you did. i use to live in florida but i couldn’t stand many things about the state, so i moved, and took my money with me. good riddance !

  • Floriduh

    September 7, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    Moms for Liberty a terrorist organization supported by the Florida white nationalist movement. Stop these Nazis

  • My Take

    September 7, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Moms for Lunacy
    Moms for Lickspittery
    Moms Needing Lobotomy
    Moms Lacking Love

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 7, 2023 at 8:52 pm

      i’ve learned that the terms and names that the gop uses for bills, groups, or whatever, are actually the opposite of what they normally mean. so moms for liberty really means moms against liberty.

  • Michael K

    September 7, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    Qualifications for the role?

    She will be a handmaiden to Ron’s agenda and do as they is told.

  • PeterH

    September 7, 2023 at 8:07 pm

    ‘Mom’s for Liberty’ is a hate group!

  • Phil Morton

    September 7, 2023 at 8:37 pm

    Not sure what the big deal is. We already have a Proud Boy Secretary of State. Just adding more wood to the fire.

  • My Take

    September 7, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    “Tina Descovich is nothing but a puppet for the MAGA Republican Party”

    “Puppet” is too charitable.
    “Stooge” “Flunky”

  • My Take

    September 7, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Just another Elizabeth Dilling or Phyllis Schlafly
    America has seen them before.

  • My Take

    September 8, 2023 at 12:06 am

    Ladies for Lucifer
    (If the GOP so closely embraces the lesser evangelicals, the Dems ought to at least exploit the superstitions)

Comments are closed.


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