Donor Claims He’s Dropping Ron DeSantis, but Things Aren't as They Seem

AP Photo/Phil Sears

A new report echoed by Maggie Haberman (the original is by the far-left Financial Times) is claiming that a major donor is dropping plans to back Ron DeSantis in 2024. A closer look reveals that there’s a lot more to the story, though.


Haberman, who has long sourced reports directly from the Trump camp, pushed a quote from Thomas Peterffy in which he states that DeSantis has become too extreme on social issues. He cites “book banning” and abortion as the two reasons he’s supposedly backing away.

The red flags just jump off the page when you read that quote. One, what kind of Republican donor is turned off by a candidate being pro-life? Two, the “book banning” line is straight out of the left’s playbook, and it also happens to be false. No books are banned in Florida. Any parent can choose to go buy any book they’d like their child to read. That Peterffy would even mention that says a lot about what’s really going on here.

Regardless, a little digging shows that this is almost certainly an opposition operation. As I said, the fact that Haberman is pushing this is instructive given she’s been described as a “Trump whisperer.” Despite her left-wing leanings, the former president has granted her interviews and his team has fed her many stories over the years.


Sure enough, it turns out that Peterffy is a Trump donor who is a member of Mar-a-Lago. I also can’t find any evidence that he ever had plans to fund a DeSantis presidential bid. Those facts start to bring his motivation into view. Namely, he likely put out this quote for a very specific political reason, i.e. to back the Trump camp’s narrative that DeSantis is floundering with donors.

Is that true, though? Whatever one may think of the matter, donors aren’t a problem. DeSantis just set a fundraising record in New Hampshire and the largest pro-DeSantis PAC has brought in $30 million recently. That amount dwarfs even Trump’s fundraising post-indictment, where he saw a bump in totals.

Regardless, the reason this report represents a really dumb attack for anyone on the right to run with is that I don’t want my politicians owned by donors. DeSantis continues to defy the party’s power brokers, passing laws in Florida that make the establishment squirm, from the abortion legislation to the laws targeting wokeness in schools.


The fact that some are attacking DeSantis for not being owned by donors strikes me as very odd, especially given that’s been the chief (and baseless) attack against the governor from the Trump camp. Couple that with Donald Trump Jr. coming out on Friday calling for conservatives to not boycott Bud Light because they’ve given to Kevin McCarthy, and the “owned by donors” talking point has been turned on its head.

Regardless, this report is smoke and mirrors anyway. DeSantis, prefer him as the nominee or not, is going to be cash flush in the presidential primary, and that will only accelerate once he announces. Reports likely sourced from Trump’s orbit aren’t going to change that or somehow force DeSantis not to run. Given that, as I’ve said before, may the best man win because this battle is going to happen.


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