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DeSantis ally warns against donating to ‘Ready for Ron’ as PAC plans to spend $3.3M on ads

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A political action committee known as Ready for Ron said Thursday it plans to spend more than $3 million in the coming months to boost Gov. Ron DeSantis’ already prominent national profile and organize a grassroots campaign should the Florida Republican launch a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

But DeSantis, who in November was overwhelmingly re-elected and is focused on Florida’s legislative session as his second term gets underway, has nothing to do with this PAC. And his political team is pointing to a memo from last summer that said contributions to the non-affiliated PAC “do not benefit Governor DeSantis or his re-election.”

A source close to the governor’s political operation told Fox News “this doesn’t help Ron DeSantis. It’s a grift — plain and simple.”

The memo from DeSantis’ team highlighted that the committee “is apparently engaging in an aggressive media campaign to promote itself, running political ads and actively soliciting contributions from supporters of Governor DeSantis.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a victory speech after defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist while wife Casey DeSantis looks on during his election night watch party Nov. 8, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a victory speech after defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist while wife Casey DeSantis looks on during his election night watch party Nov. 8, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla
(Getty Images)

“In reality, the PAC is actively taking financial resources away from Governor DeSantis and his re-election efforts. While possibly well-intentioned, these types of organizations tend to cannibalize support that would normally be offered to the candidate directly,” DeSantis 2022 re-election campaign legal counsel Benjamin Gibson argued in the memo.

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Ready for Ron formed in May and includes veteran Republican consultant Ed Rollins as its chief strategist. On Thursday, it filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission disclosing that it intends to spend $3.3 million over the next six months on a national TV ad campaign and on phone, mail and digital promotions.

The governor, a former congressman, saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country the past three years, courtesy of his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a conservative culture warrior going after media and corporations.

DeSantis for over a year routinely dismissed talk of a 2024 White House race as he focused on his gubernatorial re-election. But he’s dropped some hints the past two months of a possible presidential bid, starting with his re-election victory speech in November.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' book "The Courage to be Free"

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ book “The Courage to be Free”
(Broadside Books)

The governor, who has rivaled and even eclipsed former President Donald Trump in some 2024 polling, has already pushed legislation in the opening days of his second term that is popular with conservatives in Florida and nationwide. And, as Fox News first reported, he’s got a memoir, “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” publishing next month. Writing a book is a rite of passage for many potential and actual presidential candidates.

“I don’t think he’s going to pay attention to federal politics until after the legislative session is over. But other potential candidates are organizing now. There’s a window of time here where things have to get done,” Dan Backer, a lawyer and counsel to Ready for Ron, told Fox News.

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“We’re putting out our messaging that [President} Biden is the problem and Ron is the best solution out there,” Backer said. He added that his group is “building a large grassroots infrastructure to help nominate and elect him. We’re putting out the message and building the grassroots that he’ll need when we are successful at convincing him to run.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol, Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol, Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

But Backer, asked about the 2022 memo, said that the committee “didn’t spend a single penny trying to re-elect him as governor because we weren’t interested in doing that and he didn’t need the help. The polls were clear. Everything we’re doing is focused on building this infrastructure for him to run for president.”

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Political committees, such as Ready for Ron, are prohibited under longstanding federal rules from either coordinating or contributing directly to a candidate or his or her campaign. The group is one of two non-affiliated committees urging DeSantis to run for president, along with a super PAC named Ron to the Rescue.

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