DeSantis campaign accepts money from donor who used a racial slur against Obama

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Ron DeSantis' campaign had previously said it would not take any money from Steven Alembik.

Steven Alembik, a Republican donor from Boca Raton, Florida, donated $5,000 to Ron DeSantis' reelection campaign for governor last month, after DeSantis' previous campaign for the position, in 2018, had said it would not take any more money from him over his offensive racist comments.

Alembik had in previous years donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis, but had been disavowed by DeSantis' first gubernatorial campaign in 2018 after he tweeted a racist slur against former President Barack Obama, writing out, "F--K THE MUSLIM N----R." In response, DeSantis campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson said in a statement, "We adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric." Lawson said that the campaign would not accept any more money from Alembik. 

Alembik at first denied that he'd posted the slur, but then switched his story and told Politico, "So somebody like Chris Rock can get up onstage and use the word and there's no problem? But some white guy says it and he's a racist? Really?... I grew up in New York in the ’50s. We were the kikes. They were the n------. They were the goyim. And those were the spics." He said, "I'm an emotional human being. Do I have a filter on what I say? In public, yes. Would I use that word in public? No. This is Twitter."  

Alembik was neither the first nor the last person associated with DeSantis to exhibit racist behavior. DeSantis himself said on Aug. 29, 2018, about his Democratic opponent for governor, Andrew Gillum, who is African American, that he would "monkey ... up" the economy.

Subsequently, Florida residents received robocalls from a person claiming to be Gillum, the first Black nominee for Florida governor from a major party, and speaking in what the New York Times called "the exaggerated accent of a minstrel performer" with jungle sounds in the background. The calls ended with a message saying they were paid for by the Road to Power, which the Anti-Defamation League says is an Idaho-based white supremacist and antisemitic broadcaster. 

In February 2018, Alembik hosted a gala event for a conservative group called the Truth About Israel at Donald Trump's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. The resort had recently lost 15 bookings for events following Trump's remarks about there being "people that were very fine people, on both sides" at the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017. DeSantis spoke at the event at Mar-a-Lago, as did fellow Republican Rep. Brian Mast. 

In 2017, DeSantis attended a "Restoration Weekend" gathering organized by David Horowitz, an anti-Muslim activist and founder of the Islamophobic magazine FrontPage Magazine and the so-called David Horowitz Freedom Center. Other attendees that year included right-wing figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Charlie Kirk, and Devin Nunes.  

In April, DeSantis signed the Stop W.O.K.E Act to eradicate so-called critical race theory and "woke" ideology from Florida schools and workplaces. Critics see it as a measure to outlaw the discussion of racial inequality in general. 

DeSantis' office did not respond to inquiries from the American Independent Foundation regarding the donation by Alembik.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.