Ron DeSantis, once yoked to the Koch Network, is now trashing it

Desantis Newsmax
The Governor hasn't always blasted them as tools of the 'establishment.' But then Nikki Haley happened.

Six years ago, in his race for Governor, Ron DeSantis took heat from both his Primary and General Election opponents for being too close to the Koch Network.

Support from the conservative powerhouse group was essential for the former three-term Congressman.

DeSantis worked hard for the Kochs’ backing even before getting into the Governor’s race (winning the unofficial Koch primary against Putnam endorser Richard Corcoran, who went on to work as DeSantis’ Commissioner of Education and now as the New College President).

The network endorsed him before the Primary.

Even then, DeSantis-supportive direct mail went out from affiliated groups despite the Republican National Committee urging donors to divest from Koch’s efforts.

Spokespeople for Adam Putnam and Andrew Gillum made hay of the cooperation, one of many boosts for DeSantis in races he wasn’t expected to win.

A fiery news release from Putnam spokesperson Meredith Beatrice, who has gone on since to work in a variety of roles in the DeSantis administration, asked if “D.C. DeSantis (was) taking Koch money illegally in an attempt to hide his support for weak borders and anti-American trade policy.”

“The anti-(Donald) Trump, open-border Koch group backing D.C. DeSantis isn’t reporting the source of $300K in contributions. This appears to be another attempt from D.C. DeSantis to cover up his betrayal of President Trump,” Beatrice added.

“D.C. DeSantis is choosing to be a puppet of the open-border, anti-Trump Koch brothers and turning his back on President Trump who recently slammed the Koch brothers, calling them a ‘total joke’ and saying they are ‘against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade.’”

Later in the year, the Florida Democrats got into the act on behalf of Gillum.

“If Ron DeSantis wins, the Koch Brothers and their special interest agenda will own the Governor’s mansion — and that’s why they are spending big in this race,” asserted FDP spox Kevin Donohoe.

DeSantis weathered the storm, of course, and the political arm of Americans for Prosperity backed DeSantis for re-election in 2022.

“AFP Action volunteers across the state are ready to turn out to support his re-election,” a spokesperson promised.

In between the campaigns, there was interstitial support. In 2021, the Governor got a glow-up in an Americans for Prosperity spot with a six-figure ad buy dedicated to championing school choice, thanking DeSantis for signing the school voucher bill (HB 7045) and encouraging him to continue supporting vouchers.

That was then, this is now.

Whatever collaborative synergy existed between the Governor and the group was destroyed Tuesday, as rumors that the group would break from DeSantis and endorse Nikki Haley as the candidate who can “win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November” instead.

Since the endorsement went public, DeSantis’ political operation went ballistic. On Tuesday evening, the Governor said it in his own words, expressing an opprobrium for the group’s absence in recent years.

“I think that their network has taken certain positions that are conservative. Some that are not,” DeSantis said during an interview on Newsmax, where Eric Bolling asked about the “Koch Brothers” backing Haley.

He argued that Americans for Prosperity “supported open borders” and that “Nikki is … very weak on immigration,” and so “that gives her some synergy with that group.”

DeSantis said that “in someone like Nikki,” Americans for Prosperity sees “somebody that’s going to be more aligned with establishment interests.”

The Governor’s statement in a very friendly interview with no particularly tough questions — a Bolling staple — comports with that from his campaign earlier Tuesday.

“Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former President,” read a prepared statement from DeSantis’ Communications Director Andrew Romeo. “Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different.”

A cynic might respond that if the Koch Network is the “establishment,” this Governor has walked beside them far more than beating them until this very moment when his once dominant presidential campaign is reeling on the ropes like a spent heavyweight in the 14th round of a prize fight.

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


  • Hung Wiil

    November 28, 2023 at 11:11 pm

    Donald Trump will win Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada . . . and every other primary/caucus after that. The question now is, will DeSantis stay on the ballot to lose big in the March presidential primary here in sunny Florida? How embarrassing that would be and will surely give Trump a zinger. Trump will beat Heavy D by a bigger margin than the one he beat Crist. Haley is not surging; Rama is going nowhere. Trump will be the Republican candidate, maybe running from prison. It is 2023 after all.

    • PeterH

      November 29, 2023 at 12:08 am

      I believe Will is onto something!

    • Marvin M.

      November 29, 2023 at 5:23 pm

      You are probably right.
      Trump will likely win early primaries.
      Will DeSantis win my state, Florida? I’m guessing probably not.
      So unless the GOP starts to rally around someone else now, Trump’s gonna be the nominee.
      I’m not a Republican, so I can’t help in the Republican primary. But at least Nikki Haley is not an authoritarian nutcase. Chris Christie can be a bully, but he is also not an authoritarian nutcase. DeSantis is an authoritarian nutcase.
      But but but, can they beat Joe Biden? I don’t know. But who didn’t beat Joe Biden last time? Oh yeah, it was Trump. So, if you want to win, don’t re-nominate him (trump). Rally around someone else. Now. While you have the chance and the blessing of the Kochs.

  • Sonja Fitch

    November 29, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Lol Desantis is being told “politely “ get out of this race looooooser! Thank you Koch Brothers. Omg I just thanked the Koch Brothers. Lol Desantis get out!

    • My Take

      November 29, 2023 at 7:25 am

      One brother now video conferences from Hell I believe.

  • rick whitaker

    November 29, 2023 at 8:12 am


    • Impeach Biden

      November 29, 2023 at 9:13 am

      Who watches CNN, MSNBC, The View and many others? I know you do Rick. 🤣

  • Michael K

    November 29, 2023 at 8:44 am

    You know it’s pretty bad when even the Koch brothers – those oligarchs who control the Republican agenda to destroy public education and our democracy – profess their dislike of Ronda. Nobody likes Ronda.

  • MH/Duuuval

    November 29, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    I had not thought about the Florida primary — a great scenario for the MAGA revolution to devour itself.

Comments are closed.


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