Home News and Politics Ron DeSantis’ Utilization of State Plane During Fundraiser Raises Concerns: Examining the Facts

Ron DeSantis’ Utilization of State Plane During Fundraiser Raises Concerns: Examining the Facts

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Ron DeSantis’ Utilization of State Plane During Fundraiser Raises Concerns: Examining the Facts

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign is facing challenges as former President Donald Trump maintains his lead in polls and fundraising. However, amidst his campaign efforts, DeSantis took a break to dedicate a county park that was named after him.

The newly named Governor Ron DeSantis Park in Manatee County, Southwest Florida, offers various recreational facilities such as pickleball courts, playgrounds, fitness trails, and dog parks. Although the pickleball courts may not have been the main reason for DeSantis’ visit.

Later that day, DeSantis hosted a presidential fundraiser at an exclusive golf club near the park, where attendees paid a minimum of $1,500 to hear the governor speak about Israel and other topics.

Questions have been raised regarding whether taxpayer resources were used to benefit DeSantis’ presidential campaign, as he seemingly flew to the events in his state plane.

Interestingly, it appears that DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis, also followed this pattern. A day after the park dedication, the state plane flew to Sarasota for her scheduled fundraiser for the Sarasota GOP. She also held an official event at New College of Florida earlier in the day.

This is not the first time the governor’s office has been accused of using the state plane for personal and campaign purposes, potentially violating state law. Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group, has observed a consistent pattern of public resources being used to support DeSantis’ campaign.

However, a spokesperson for DeSantis maintains that the governor only uses the state plane for official state business, in accordance with the law.

A History of Costly Jet Travel

Prior to his presidential campaign, DeSantis faced scrutiny for relying on a nonprofit organization to fund his private jet trips, shielding the donors’ identities from public view. More recently, it was revealed that a super PAC not affiliated with DeSantis’ campaign paid for his air travel to PAC events.

Politico reported that DeSantis’ presidential campaign spent $1.5 million in the third quarter on private jet companies, contributing to a financial strain on the campaign. To cut costs, DeSantis has potentially combined official state events with political fundraisers to justify using the state plane for campaign purposes.

Piecing Together Shielded Travel Records

DeSantis’ travel records are not publicly accessible due to legislation he signed that exempted them from Florida’s open records laws. However, aircraft identification records have been used to track his plane’s movements.

On the day of the Manatee County events, DeSantis flew into the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, consistent with the flight data. The state plane’s departure from Tallahassee to Sarasota aligned with the timing of the park dedication ceremony.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s registered plane departed Sarasota for Tallahassee later that evening, indicating that DeSantis did not use the state plane to return home.

Political Mixing of Official Duties and Fundraising

This is not the first time DeSantis has combined official appearances with personal fundraisers, and many other elected officials follow a similar practice. Former President Barack Obama, for example, toured a national center and held fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee during a visit to Miami in 2015.

Some argue that this practice aims to shift the financial burden from the campaign to taxpayers. Wilcox, a research director and co-founder of Integrity Florida, noted that DeSantis blurs the lines between his public duties and campaign activities, pushing the boundaries of what is legally allowed.

The fundraiser at The Concession Golf Club, attended by a few dozen guests including influential figures like former Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, was an opportunity for DeSantis to discuss his campaign and raise funds. Contribution amounts varied, with a minimum of $1,500 required for attendance.

Consistent Flight Patterns

Previous flight data shows a similar pattern of combining official events and fundraisers. For instance, in 2021, DeSantis attended three public events before a fundraiser in Boca Raton, with his plane flying from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale and up to West Palm Beach.

While DeSantis claims to follow the law regarding his use of the state plane, the practices surrounding his travel and the potential mingling of official duties and campaign activities continue to attract attention and criticism.

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