Florida Governor Ron DeSantis firmly rejected a controversial GOP proposal to allocate taxpayer funds for former President Donald Trump’s legal fees. The plan, spearheaded by Republican Senator Ileana Garcia and supported by Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, aimed to provide Trump with up to $5 million to help him deal with his four criminal indictments and a defamation trial.
Patronis had rationalized the bill, claiming it would be financially beneficial for Florida. He argued that supporting a Floridian presidential candidate like Trump, who could face legal challenges similar to those currently confronting him, would be advantageous in terms of federal assistance for state projects.
Garcia echoed this sentiment, suggesting that left-wing prosecutors and the Biden Administration were conspiring to keep Trump off the ballot. She framed the bill as a defense against these alleged attacks, saying it would benefit not just Florida but the nation.
However, DeSantis, who recently halted his 2024 presidential campaign, swiftly shut down the proposal on social media. His veto threat highlighted a clear division within the Florida GOP regarding support for Trump. Garcia responded by announcing her intention to withdraw the bill, acknowledging the changed political landscape and Trump’s capacity to handle his legal battles independently.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo distanced herself from the bill, emphasizing that it wasn’t a legislative priority and that Trump could afford his legal fees without taxpayer help.
Democrats in Florida were quick to slam the proposal, with Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried calling it a disgraceful misuse of taxpayer funds. State Representative Anna Eskamani expressed her firm opposition with a succinct “Absolutely not.”
DeSantis’s veto promise and the subsequent withdrawal of the bill reflect a complex dynamic within the Florida GOP and a broader Republican landscape. It underscores the ongoing struggle for power and influence in the party as it grapples with Trump’s enduring presence and the rise of new political figures like DeSantis.