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FIRST ON FOX: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign is warning the Florida Republican’s donors that contributions sent to “Ready for Ron,” a recently formed federal political action committee, “do not benefit Governor DeSantis or his re-election.”
The letter, obtained by Fox News and confirmed by DeSantis’ political team, highlighted that the new PAC “is apparently engaging in an aggressive media campaign to promote itself, running political ads, and actively soliciting contributions from supporters of Governor DeSantis.”
But Benjamin Gibson, the DeSantis 2022 reelection campaign legal counsel, argued in the letter that “in reality, the PAC is actively taking financial resources away from Governor DeSantis and his re-election efforts. While possibly well-intentioned, these types of organizations tend to cannibalize support that would normally be offered to the candidate directly.”
And Gibson reminded donors that “the only way a supporter of Governor DeSantis can ensure that their contribution will be used to support the Governor and/or his agenda is to donate directly to the Ron DeSantis for Governor Campaign, or to Friends of Ron DeSantis, the political committee that promotes Governor DeSantis and his conservative policies.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sits down with Fox News Digital for an interview, in Tallahassee, Florida on Feb. 7, 2022. (Fox News)
The title of the letter emphasized that the governor and his campaign are “not affiliated with any federal political entity, nor has Governor DeSantis authorized any federal political activity to be conducted on his behalf.”
The DeSantis campaign told Fox News the letter was sent to an initial group of key supporters and allies, and people who’ve inquired about “Ready for Ron.”
DeSantis, a former congressman who was narrowly elected governor in 2018, has become a fundraising behemoth as he runs for reelection, hauling in well over $100 million this cycle and dwarfing the fundraising of the Democrats hoping to challenge him in November’s general election.
The governor has seen his popularity surge among Republican voters in his state and around the nation over the past two years, thanks in large part to his relentless pushback against COVID-19 restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as his aggressive actions in the culture wars. While DeSantis has repeatedly deflected talk of a potential run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, pundits view him as a possible White House contender.
The Ready for Ron PAC, which apparently is aiming to draft DeSantis to run for the White House in 2024, is being led Ed Rollins – the campaign chairman for former President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide reelection who decades later ran the Great America PAC that supported then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election – and Lilian Rodríguez-Baz, a Miami appellate attorney and conservative activist. The two teamed to start the online petition to gather signatures encouraging DeSantis to announce a 2024 presidential run.
“We think DeSantis is a very strong candidate. He would carry on a lot of the efforts of President Trump’s agenda,” Rollins told Fox News last month.
Rollins said his committee would serve as a resource for DeSantis supporters hoping the Florida governor eventually launches a presidential campaign, and that it would also help put an infrastructure of national support in place.
In a statement to Fox News following the publishing of this report, Rollins said “we are thrilled the DeSantis campaign is seeing the Ready for Ron messaging online and on air. We hope they like the comparison of Governor DeSantis’ visionary leadership to Ronald Reagan’s – especially as Joe Biden makes our economy more like Jimmy Carter’s every day.”
The DeSantis campaign, in the letter, noted other types “of activity that purports to be in support of Governor DeSantis, but in reality, consumes resources that could go to the Campaign,” pointing to online merchandisers who sell items featuring the DeSantis campaign logo and use the governor’s name or likeness on their items.
“While this certainly is a signal of the broad, enthusiastic support for Ron DeSantis, it does not directly benefit his Campaign for governor,” the letter states.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.