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Ex-DeSantis state political action committee transfers money, closes

Rick Bowmer

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former state political committee transferred $82.5 million to a federal super PAC supporting his presidential campaign and shut down in late May, according to the committee’s website and state records.

The Friends of Ron DeSantis state committee on May 15 filed paperwork informing Florida elections officials that it was becoming the Empower Parents PAC and would be chaired by state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who is a DeSantis ally.

Later in the month, it sent $82.5 million to the Never Back Down super PAC supporting DeSantis’ presidential bid, according to the Empower Parents PAC website.

Also, it sent $1 million to a newly formed state committee led by Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, records show. That new state committee is the similarly named Empower Parents Florida.

On May 30, Ingoglia submitted a letter to the state Division of Elections that said “Empower Florida PAC is no longer organized and operating as a Florida political committee. Therefore, I request the Division’s registration of the political committee entitled Empower Parents PAC be terminated, effective immediately. Please update the Division’s records accordingly to reflect the disbandment of Empower Parents PAC as a Florida political committee.”

The Friends of Ron DeSantis committee played a key role politically for DeSantis, collecting more than $225 million from 2018 through April.

The Washington-based Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint May 30 at the Federal Election Commission alleging that transferring the DeSantis-linked state money to the federal super PAC violates a campaign-finance law.