- Trump’s Make America Great Again super PAC has filed an ethics complaint against pro-DeSantis PACs.
- Trump’s team wants the Florida ethics commission to investigate if DeSantis’ book tour was “unlawful.”
- This ethics complaint kicks off the official dispute between Trump’s camp and DeSantis’ supporters.
New battle lines have been drawn in the fight between former President Donald Trump’s supporters and allies of his political protegé turned nemesis, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Make America Great Again Inc., a Trump-aligned super PAC, filed a complaint with the Florida ethics commission on Wednesday.
MAGA Inc. is asking the Florida ethics commission to investigate if DeSantis’ “personally lucrative book tour” and the work of pro-DeSantis super PACs violate any laws. A draft of the complaint was obtained exclusively by NBC News.
In the complaint, MAGA Inc. accused DeSantis of soliciting and receiving “millions of dollars worth of illegal gifts in violation of Florida State ethics laws and the Florida Constitution.” It also accused DeSantis of benefiting from a “coordinated effort” that is “specifically designed for him to accept, as unethical gifts, illegal campaign contributions, and certain personal benefits.”
MAGA Inc. alleged that DeSantis is funded by “a vast network of political committees, non-profit organizations, and prominent political operatives.” It also argued that these activities “are unlawful because they serve his personal political objectives, are in furtherance of his personal financial gain at the expense of Florida taxpayers, and are intended to influence his official decision to resign from office.”
The Trump PAC also accused DeSantis of running a “shadow presidential campaign.” The PAC asked that DeSantis be impeached from his position as governor if it’s found that he’s violated state ethics laws.
“The Make America Great Again movement was birthed to stop career politicians who use public service to amass personal wealth and power,” MAGA Inc. told CNN on Wednesday. “An investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission must occur as soon as possible.”
DeSantis has indeed been on a tour to promote his new book. However, whether DeSantis-linked super PACs or the governor himself have financially benefited from the tour — beyond the royalties he would receive for his book sales — is unclear.
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ spokeswoman, told NBC News that she’s adding MAGA Inc’s complaint “to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks.”
“It’s inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes,” Fenske told NBC News.
The ethics complaint is a clear escalation in hostilities from Trump’s camp in its battle against DeSantis. DeSantis has not yet announced a presidential bid, but the two are on a collision course for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump has also stepped up his attacks against DeSantis. In the last four months, Trump has claimed that DeSantis cried in front of him while asking for an endorsement in 2018, and branded DeSantis “average” and “very disloyal.” In February, he wrote a slew of angry Truth Social posts excoriating DeSantis — despite saying that thinking of new mean nicknames for DeSantis is “very unimportant” to him.
DeSantis has thus far refrained from insulting Trump. In November, he told people to “chill out” about a possible GOP civil war between them.
Representatives for DeSantis, a spokesman for Trump, and a spokesman for MAGA Inc. did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment outside regular business hours.