Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried filed an administrative complaint on Friday against an organization tied to former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, alleging it is soliciting donations without registering as a charity with Fried’s agency.
Fried’s department alleges multiple violations of Florida charities law against Defending the Republic Inc., including failure to register and obtaining contributions through misrepresentation, false pretense, and deception.
State records show that the organization did file on Feb. 23, 2021, with the Division of Corporations in Florida. And that organization is now inactive.
However, Fried said it did not register as a charity with her department, as required under Florida’s Solicitation of Contributions Act for organizations that asks people in Florida for financial donations.
“This is serious. When asking people for donations in the state of Florida, if you don’t follow the law, and if you misrepresent and deceive [about] what you’re doing, we will hold you accountable. No matter who you are, whether big or small, whether a bad actor, a scammer, or a former lawyer for the former president, we will apply the law equally,” Fried said during a news conference.
The law is designed to give consumers information about how their donations are used and to allow state officials to monitor charities’ practices, said Rick Kimsey, Fried’s director of consumer services.
The Phoenix was unable to contact Powell, who led Donald Trump’s quixotic legal battle to overturn the results of the presidential election. Her law firm phone number went unanswered. So did an email sent to Powell through the State Bar of Texas.
Florida Division of Corporations records do not list Powell as an officer or director, although they do name Trump ally Mike Lindell, the pillow salesman.
However, the organization’s articles of dissolution, effective May 21, 2021, shows a signature of “Sidney Powell,” and “Chairman of the Board.” The dissolution is described as a “voluntary dissolution” in the records.
“We continue to fight for #WeThePeople who make this country work, who love God, family, freedom, and all who believe in the good that makes America exceptional,” the site says. “We are preparing additional cases every day. We are working hard to defend the constitutional rights of all Americans for which our forbearers sacrificed everything.”
A consumer complaint filed in November 2020 initiated the investigation, Fried said. Initially, the organization denied it was involved but a subpoena served against its web host confirmed that Powell controls it, she said.
Fried wants the group to register or cease its activity said her office could seek penalties of as much as $15,000.
Fried said the action has nothing to do with her campaign for governor.
“If somebody is going to defraud people in our state, I have a sworn obligation to defend the people of our state, regardless of political organization, regardless of their mission. We are going to continue to do our job,” she said.