Ron DeSantis' campaign took thousands from two donors accused of soliciting prostitution


The charges stemmed from a Florida spa with alleged ties to a human trafficking ring.

Both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a political action committee associated with his reelection effort took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from two donors who were accused of soliciting prostitution.

According to a review of campaign finance disclosures, DeSantis received two in-kind donations from an individual named John. W. Childs, the billionaire owner of the equity firm J.W. Childs Associates. The in-kind contributions were reported in February 2022 as $1,260 for "food and beverage" and $1,508.64 for "transportation."

Childs contributed $600,000 to DeSantis' 2018 gubernatorial campaign and his failed U.S. Senate bid in 2016.

Childs was arrested in 2019 for allegedly soliciting prostitution at a spa in Florida that was accused of having ties to a human trafficking ring. The arrest came after a six-month investigation that uncovered traffickers "luring vulnerable women to massage parlors in Indian River County, where they were coerced into working as prostitutes," according to TCPalm.

All charges against Childs were dropped in 2020, and his court records were expunged in 2021.

Childs has been a reliable conservative megadonor for years. In the 2016 election, he contributed $250,000 to a super PAC that supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign, according to Insider. He has since been a reliable funder of several influential far-right PACs, including Club for Growth and America Rising.

Childs isn't the only donor to DeSantis' reelection effort who has faced accusations of soliciting prostitution. In February, Timothy Leuliette, the former CEO of automotive electronics supplier Visteon, gave $19,000 to the PAC Friends of Ron DeSantis, according to campaign finance records.

Leuliette resigned from his position leading the company in 2015 after an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct against him. A lengthy legal battle over Leuliette's split from Visteon included a charge that he had used company devices to solicit prostitutes and download pornography, the Detroit News reported.

In addition to his contribution to the PAC supporting DeSantis, Leuliette and his wife each donated $3,000 directly to DeSantis' campaign, according to campaign finance records.

Published with permission from The American Independent Foundation.