Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a rising star in the Republican Party. But many of his former staffers told Politico they felt used and abused by the MAGA politician.
A group of former DeSantis staffers have formed a “support group” to regularly discuss their adverse experiences working for the governor, Playbook reported Friday. DeSantis reportedly has very few veteran advisers and largely relies on himself and his wife, Casey DeSantis, to guide his political strategy.
“Loyalty and trust, that is not a currency he deals in,” one former adviser told Politico. “It's him and Casey. But everyone else is like a disposable piece of garbage.”
After DeSantis faced widespread criticism for saying his Black competitor in the 2018 governor's race would “monkey up” the state, DeSantis and his wife reportedly blamed campaign staffers for the fallout. DeSantis fired five aides within the first few months of taking office as governor. And he reportedly had the leader of the Florida Republican Party fire a staffer in their first week back at work after having surgery for cancer.
— A “support group” of former DeSantis staffers meets regularly to trade war stories about their hardship working for the governor. The turnover in his office and among his campaign advisers is well known among Republicans: In three of his five full years in Congress, he ranked in at least the 70th percentile in terms of highest turnover in a House office, according to data compiled by Legistorm. In the governor’s office, he has only two staffers who started with him when he was a junior member of Congress.
— Within six months of taking office as governor in 2019, DeSantis fired five staffers. One was a 23-year-old scheduler who’d been with him since the beginning of his gubernatorial race. Shortly after she was sent packing, an unnamed member of DeSantis’ administration was quoted in a Florida blog trashing her performance. A month later, his deputy chief of staff left, prompting Florida reporters to press him about the rapid churn in his operation.
— Another story relayed to us by five former staffers: At the beginning of his administration, DeSantis directed the Florida Republican Party leader to fire a party official who had cancer — on that person’s first week back from surgery.
— DeSantis often blames his staff for his own blunders, we’re told. After DeSantis went on Fox News in 2018 and implored Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by supporting his African American Democratic opponent for governor, he and his wife chewed out his campaign staff for not cleaning up the mess, according to three former staffers. Shortly after, DeSantis brought in a whole new group of advisers.
— Aides would lure DeSantis to staff meetings with cupcakes, saying that it was a colleague’s birthday to get him to attend. In the gubernatorial primary, DeSantis visited his campaign headquarters just a couple of times. On election night, he entered the war room after his win and remarked, “Wow, I didn’t know this many people worked for me,” according to four former staffers.
DeSantis’ office didn’t respond directly to these specifics, but called the line of questioning a false narrative. His chief of staff, ADRIAN LUKIS, sent a 5-page document with statements from 14 current and former staffers, consultants and GOP party leaders praising DeSantis, including his former chief of staff SHANE STRUM.
“Throughout my time as Chief of Staff, the Governor empowered me to make sure that everyone who worked for him had the best interests of the state at heart,” Strum wrote. “We didn’t tolerate leakers, and we didn’t tolerate grifters. Fortunately, aside from some individuals we had to part with early in the administration, the Governor has had a strong and loyal team, who he appreciates.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) just signed the state's new restrictive voting bill live on Fox News (after barring local press from the bill's signing). pic.twitter.com/hR2ZXooABy
— The Recount (@therecount) May 6, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis not only broke from decades of precedent on Thursday when he blocked all news outlets except Fox News from covering the signing of a voting bill into law. He also may have violated the U.S. Constitution.
That’s the opinion of First Amendment experts who told the Tampa Bay Times it is illegal for DeSantis to hand-pick which media can cover a public proceeding.
“The law leaves no question as to the impropriety of banning certain media while allowing only friendly media,” said Pamela Marsh, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, an organization that advocates for open government and represents news organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald. “That is viewpoint and content discrimination.”
Decades of precedent in federal courts have affirmed that elected officials cannot block certain news outlets from reporting on public events just because they don’t like the coverage.
Like similar bills that Republicans are pushing in dozens of state legislatures nationwide, the Florida measure adds hurdles to voting by mail, restricts the use of drop boxes and prohibits any actions that could influence those standing in line to vote, which voting rights advocates said is likely to discourage nonpartisan groups from offering food or water to voters as they wait.
Democrats and voting rights advocates accused Republicans of trying to make it harder for some Floridians to cast ballots – and to appease constituents who believe Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.
“This blatant voter suppression is Jim Crow 2.0 and will make it harder for voters – from low-income rural white communities to the elderly to communities of color – to have their voices heard,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, said in a statement. “It is clearly part of a coordinated, targeted assault strategy as Florida joins a long list of states pursuing similar disenfranchisement efforts in recent months.”
The Florida measure was immediately challenged in federal court. Voting rights advocates including the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund, Common Cause and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed two lawsuits arguing that the law is unconstitutional.
Both suits maintain that the law creates undue and uneven barriers to voting.
“Senate Bill 90 does not impede all of Florida’s voters equally,” the League of Women Voters and other groups argued in their suit. “It is crafted to and will operate to make it more difficult for certain types of voters to participate in the state’s elections, including those voters who generally wish to vote with a vote-by-mail ballot and voters who have historically had to overcome substantial hurdles to reach the ballot box, such as Florida’s senior voters, youngest voters, and minority voters.”
Critics said the new law curtails poll access in ways that will intimidate, confuse and otherwise make it harder for people to vote by mail, which is popular in Florida. In November, more than 4.8 million Floridians – more than 40% of the fall electorate – cast mail ballots, including many Republicans.
More calls are coming in for the governor to push up the date for the special election to fill the seat left vacant due to the passing of Congressman Alcee Hastings.
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set the dates for the special primary election to take place in November and the general election to take place in January, but critics said that leaves hundreds of thousands of Floridians unrepresented.
Critics also slammed the move as political and made in an effort to fight against the majority that the Democrats have in Congress.
Hastings passed away last month leaving an empty seat in Congress and no representation for District 20, according to critics.
District 20 includes parts of central Broward and north towards Palm Beach County.
And also, this:
Unemployed Floridians receiving state benefits will soon have to provide proof that they’re looking for a job.
Governor Ron DeSantis lifted the requirement that people receiving benefits look for work early in the pandemic when unemployment was rising and few were hiring. But DeSantis has lifted restrictions on businesses, and the unemployment rate is below the national average.
“Normally when you’re getting unemployment, the whole idea is that’s temporary, and you need to be looking for work to be able to get off unemployment,” DeSantis said at a news conference on Wednesday. “It was a disaster, so we suspended those job search requirements. I think it’s pretty clear now, we have an abundance of job openings.”
DeSantis is the real piece of trash here. Democrats are gearing up to take out the trash and one of them just jumped into the race:
Representative Charlie Crist, Democrat of Florida, entered the race for governor on Tuesday, becoming the first challenger to Ron DeSantis, a Republican who raised his profile by shunning lockdowns during the pandemic and is now a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
“Every step of the way, this governor has been more focused on his personal political fortune than the struggle of everyday Floridians,” Mr. Crist said under the blazing sun in St. Petersburg as he made his announcement. “That’s just not right. Just like our former president, he always takes credit but never takes responsibility.”
His candidacy signaled the start of a long, expensive and most likely bruising campaign in a battleground state that has been swinging away from Democrats since 2016. Florida’s exceptionally tight governor’s races have been decided by around one percentage point since 2010, always in Republicans’ favor. The last Democrat to win election to the governor’s mansion was Lawton Chiles, who won a second term in 1994.
Mr. Crist’s advisers see him as the Democrat with the most experience running statewide and appealing to a coalition of liberal and moderate voters in the way that President Biden did nationally — though not in Florida, which former President Donald J. Trump won by three percentage points.
Mr. Crist has an extensive political history in Florida and is widely known throughout the state. He served as governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 before running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, losing to Marco Rubio. After switching parties, he later lost a Democratic bid for governor in 2014 against the Republican incumbent, Rick Scott.
The arc of his political evolution was evident in the video he used on Tuesday to announce his candidacy. It featured footage of the hug with former President Barack Obama that led to Mr. Crist’s departure from the Republican Party 11 years ago.
But Mr. Crist’s experience is unlikely to deter other Democratic candidates from joining the race. His clout has been diminished by years of electoral failures and by a party that is increasingly open to a wider range of more diverse public figures to be its standard bearers. Two women, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Representative Val Demings of Orlando, are considering their own runs for the governor’s mansion as Democrats.
We shall see if Fried and Demings jump in but I’m glad to have Crist kick this campaign into gear.
Crist wasted no time hitting DeSantis on the voter suppression bill. Received this e-mail yesterday from Crist’s campaign:
This morning, Ron DeSantis did something shameful and undemocratic.
He signed SB 90, an unAmerican bill that restricts voting rights (much like the one recently passed in Georgia). This bill makes it harder for Floridians to vote by mail, limits drop boxes, and criminalizes offering food and water to people waiting in line to vote.
DeSantis also barred every press outlet but Fox News from covering the signing ceremony. I'm not going to say Ron is afraid of the free press… but he's afraid of the free press.
Today, we see Ron for who he truly is: a corrupt politician so consumed with toeing the party line and protecting his own political future that he's willing to engage in voter suppression — even against his party! Because, yes, this bill will make it more difficult for Republicans to vote as well.
That's not the kind of governor I'll be.
- I'll make it easier to vote, just like I did before. Four months after I was sworn in as the 44th governor of Florida, I signed a law that expanded voting access for eligible citizens. I made it easier to vote by mail and extended early voting hours to deal with long lines.
- And I won't lock out the press and cater to Fox News. Everyone will be invited in: Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Voter suppression undermines the very notion that Florida is the land of opportunity. Days like today force us to ask ourselves: Are we a Florida for all? Or just a Florida for some? Which do we want to be?
— Charlie Crist
I also received this e-mail yesterday from Demings’ potential campaign:
And VoteVets is also getting in on taking down DeSantis. Received this e-mail yesterday from VoteVets:
Click below to donate and get involved with Crist’s campaign and the Florida Democratic Party: