TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There are multiple reports that suggest Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to enter the presidential race.
That speculation surrounds reports of an event next week, and if DeSantis wants donations to roll in at that event, he’ll need to declare his candidacy soon.
8 On Your Side breaks down this process.
Multiple outlets are reporting that DeSantis will meet with mega donors in Miami on Wednesday. Before he can solicit donations at that event, he’s required to officially enter the race. That’s a campaign finance law.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen the governor campaigning, unofficially. He was in Georgia in March, then last month, he made stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina. This past weekend, DeSantis was in Iowa.
So, who’s paying the tab for these trips?
The governor’s office states they don’t fund or coordinate political travel. So who does?
Jonathan Brill is a campaign finance expert who has worked on campaigns at all levels for 25 years.
“Up until he becomes a presidential candidate,” said Brill. “He’s traveling the country as the governor of Florida.”
“As the governor of Florida he can use…a state political committee to fund that travel.”
The governor has a state political committee. There’s approximately $86 million in that account.
Brill says Gov. DeSantis can use that money for travel, but once he declares his candidacy, the rules change, and the money from the state account is off the table.
What about all the cash from Never Back Down, the Super PAC that supports DeSantis’ bid? We discovered they’ve raised $33 million since launching in February.
Brill says that money cannot be used for travel either. Not now. Not ever.
“One of the key points to remember about this is there cannot be coordination between Never Back Down and Ron DeSantis for president,” said Brill.
So, bottom line—once Gov. DeSantis declares his candidacy, he’ll have to pay for his travel through campaign donations.
Under federal guidelines, individual donors can give DeSantis’ campaign $3,300 per election, first for the primary, then the general election.
“Gov. DeSantis will likely not be raising money directly for Never Back Down. He will be raising money just for his presidential campaign but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t two events in the same hotel that happen to be taking place an hour apart,” Brill added.
If you have a tip, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.