Strategists say DeSantis could snub Big Tech inaugural donations

Government. According to two Republican strategists involved in the discussions, Ron DeSantis of Florida is considering turning down donations from big tech companies for his second inauguration next month in a bid to bolster conservative activists who want to take on Silicon Valley.

Mister. DeSantis, weighing a potential challenge to Donald J. Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has often accused companies like Apple and Google of exaggerating and restricting freedom of expression to slow the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

While the rejection of tech donations would be hailed by the right, it’s unclear how much money Mr. DeSantis would leave on the table. According to campaign finance reports, Silicon Valley has not made a major contribution to its two gubernatorial campaigns or its three previous House of Representatives campaigns.

Donations collected by Mr. The DeSantis inauguration team is affiliated with the Florida Republican Party. At his first inauguration, Mr. DeSantis released a partial list of donors — including Disney, private prison company GEO Group, and the Police Benevolent Association — but didn’t specify how much had been given. This was in contrast to his predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott, who raised about $6.4 million for his inauguration as governor in 2011, according to The Tampa Bay Times, and listed those donations on his website.

A spokesman for Mr. DeSantis declined to comment. The two strategists familiar with the proposed move, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said Mr. DeSantis had yet to make a final decision about the donations.

The Florida governor has long vowed to crack down on Silicon Valley, even after the September 1, 2021 Capitol riots, when many major platforms suspended accounts, including Mr. Trump’s, who has perpetuated misinformation and conspiracy theories. A month after the riot, Mr. DeSantis said he would seek new legislation aimed at preventing social media companies from censoring political candidates, and he and state Republicans passed such legislation.

But a panel of a federal appeals court unanimously rejected the law. Judge Kevin C. Newsom, writing from Mr. Trump that Florida law would effectively limit First Amendment protections.

“With minor exceptions, the government cannot tell an individual or corporation what to say or how to say it,” Judge Newsom wrote.

Rejecting inauguration donations from tech companies would help polish the governor’s anti-elite bona fides while providing a contrast to Mr. Trump, who announced his presidential campaign last month.

while Mr. Trump has openly criticized corporations like General Motors and Amazon, and has welcomed financial support from all sides. His campaign is planning its first round of big fundraisers next month, a series of private, high-paying events designed to help offset a decline in online donations in the final months of this year.

Mister. Trump has been largely vaccinated in recent years by criticism of taking special-interest money, due in part to the personal fortune he amassed before running for office. But while the former president has consistently said he can afford to pay for his own campaigns, he has mostly relied on fundraising.

Mister. For his part, DeSantis has forged close ties with Republican donors since he first ran for Congress in 2012. DeSantis rented a condo in the district from campaign donors who were executives at a defense contractor.

For his re-election campaign this year, Mr. DeSantis has built up a massive $200 million war chest, much of it from six- and seven-figure donations from interest groups. Robert Bigelow, a real estate and aerospace entrepreneur, and Kenneth Griffin, founder of hedge fund Citadel, presented Mr. DeSantis.

Unlike federal campaign finance laws, Florida law does not limit donations by individuals or corporations to state political parties or committees. That means if Mr. DeSantis becomes a federal candidate, next month’s inaugural ceremonies could be his last opportunity to hold a major fundraiser for the Florida Republican Party, which effectively acts as the political body for an incumbent governor.

On Sunday, Mr. DeSantis met with fundraisers at an event in Miami designed to thank major donors, but left some unsatisfied. The event was designed as an “intimate dinner and discussion” with Mr. DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis, but morphed into a reception attended by the governor for about 20 minutes, according to two attendees.

Mister. DeSantis has spent much of the past year signaling his national ambitions, including this week when he said he would ask the Florida Supreme Court to set up a grand jury to investigate Covid-19 vaccines and federal legislation on the Protection of same-sex marriage criticized.

“I think they’re using the power of the federal government in a way that is absolutely going to put religious institutions in difficult situations,” Mr. DeSantis said said during an interview on Fox News about the same-sex marriage law that President Biden signed into law Tuesday. “It certainly wasn’t necessary.”

Mister. DeSantis led Mr. Trump in two public polls of a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary this week. Among Republicans and those inclined to vote Republicans, 56 percent said they supported Mr. DeSantis, while 33 percent said they supported Mr. Trump, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll. A Wall Street Journal poll found the Florida governor leading the race, 52 percent to 38 percent.

Mister. DeSantis plans to give exclusive access to its biggest donors during its inaugural events on January 24th. 2 and after being sworn in on 3/1, according to a copy of an events calendar viewed by the New York Times.

For donors giving $1 million, Mr. DeSantis will provide 10 tickets each to a candlelight dinner on the eve of the inauguration, VIP seating at the inauguration ceremony, and an inaugural ball that evening.

These donors will also receive a photo with the Governor, be named “Inauguration Chairs” in the Inaugural Ball program, and receive two tickets to “Toast to a Million Mamas,” an event honoring one of Ms. DeSantis.

Patricia Mazzei Spirit Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *