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GOP megadonors desperately try to save racist nominee for governor of Florida

Rep. Ron DeSantis’ racist comments are not keeping wealthy conservative donors away from his Florida campaign for governor.

By Bernie Dennler III - October 15, 2018
Ron DeSantis

Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis has made headlines for all the wrong reasons lately in his campaign for governor of Florida.

First, he kicked off the general election by suggesting voters would “monkey this up” if they elect his African-American opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Then, DeSantis was revealed to be a moderator of an aggressively bigoted Facebook group — and the author of a book excusing slavery.

Despite this, super-rich Republican donors are embracing DeSantis. His struggling campaign against Gillum got a major financial boost this month, thanks to millions of dollars in contributions from wealthy individuals

DeSantis took in an incredible $8.25 million in just the first week of October as rich Republicans threw money at his floundering campaign, according to financial disclosures.

The largest of these major donations came from Chicago hedge fund manager and billionaire Ken Griffin. Griffin dropped a whopping $5 million into a pro-DeSantis super PAC.

Griffin, the CEO of a major investment firm, is one of Florida’s wealthiest property owners, having spent almost a quarter of a billion dollars on property in Palm Beach since 2012.

One of Griffin’s lavish oceanfront properties on Florida’s so-called Billionaire’s Row gives him the largest property tax bill in the city — higher than even Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.

Griffin isn’t the only uber-rich Florida property owner trying to salvage DeSantis’ struggling campaign.

Several other donors cut massive checks to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC. Like Griffin, they live a lifestyle more like what you’d see in The Hunger Games’ Capitol City than what most Floridians experience. 

One major donation came from The Middlesex Corporation, a construction company founded by Robert Pereira — owner of what was once the most expensive private listing in the country.

Pereia’s $159 million Florida supermansion, dubbed Le Palais Royal, features an “on-site nightclub, ice-skating rink, bowling alley, go-kart circuit and private Imax cinema.” That is on top of the $3 million in gold leafing used across the absurdly luxurious property.

Allegedly, Pereira owes over $500,000 for unpaid work on that gold leafing. But his company still dropped $100,000 this month to help elect Ron DeSantis.

Another $100,000 donation came from David MacNeil, CEO and Founder of WeatherTech. MacNeil, who is also a major Trump donor, made headlines earlier this year when he spent $70 million on a Ferrari 250 GTO. MacNeil’s purchase makes his vehicle the most expensive car ever sold.

The elaborate, excessive lifestyles of these DeSantis supporters is far removed from the lives of the average Floridian. The median household income in the Sunshine State is less than $50,000 per year.

While Florida’s and America’s elite throw their support behind DeSantis, Democrat Andrew Gillum is still steadily raising funds from small-dollar contributors. As of his latest financial disclosure, Gillum had taken in close to 10,000 donations of $50 or less.

Polls show DeSantis lagging behind Gillum. And these campaign disclosure reports suggest Republican megadonors are more concerned about losing the governorship than they are with DeSantis’ blatant racism.

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