With Gov. Ron DeSantis prepping his reelection bid for 2022, political action committees are collecting campaign contributions to target the Republican governor and support Democratic candidates.
Some of the anti-DeSantis money has been used for billboards, videos, and other ads that slam him for allegedly failing to protect residents from COVID-19 and for his close friendship with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
For instance, a political group called “Ron Be Gone” unveiled two billboards Wednesday in Tallahassee drawing attention to the relationship between DeSantis and Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican who has been entangled in an investigation by the federal government under sex-trafficking laws. He has denied wrongdoing.
According to campaign finance records from the Florida Division of Elections, the group “Ron Be Gone” had raised $70,281 and spent around $61,358, as of June 30.
Gaetz has been a “top adviser” to DeSantis and “played key roles in his campaign as well as his administration,” the group said in a written statement.
Those billboards are displayed near the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. One reads: “Matt Gaetz Says DeSantis Is The ‘Batman’ To His ‘Robin.’ And the second states: “Best Friends Keep Each Other’s Secrets.”
“If Ron DeSantis thinks he can hide the true nature of his friendship with Matt Gaetz, he’s sorely mistaken,” political strategist Brice Barnes said in the statement.
“Floridians need to know that their governor owes his political career to a congressman who is caught up in a federal investigation where someone pleaded guilty to multiple counts, including sex-trafficking a minor.”
Another political group was launched earlier this year by Daniel Uhlfelder, known as the “Grim Reaper” lawyer because of his attempts while dressed in a spooky costume to discourage people from visiting Florida beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uhlfelder is behind the “Remove Ron” group, which alleges failures by DeSantis to curb the virus and other concerns. He’d previously released a short video, saying “DeSantis failed Florida” and it’s “time to remove Ron.”
According to campaign-finance records, Uhlfelder’s PAC had raised about $213,586 and spent around $148,928 as of June 30.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’s own PAC, “Friends of Ron DeSantis,” has received more $86 million in campaign funds since January 2018, according to Division of Elections data, and has spent nearly $42 million.
Gaetz contributed $25,000 in October 2018 to DeSantis’ first campaign for governor through Gaetz’ PAC, Friends of Matt Gaetz, which is registered with the Federal Elections Commission.