DeSantis nixes Florida Republican’s plan to help pay Trump legal fees

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) may have endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee — but he appears ready to use his veto pen to squash a proposal to help pay the candidate’s mounting legal fees.

Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer and a member of the governor’s Cabinet, has promoted a bill to create a “Freedom Fighters Fund” that would provide up to $5 million in “financial support to Florida residents running for President who face legal, partisan, political attacks by the Department of Justice or State Attorneys.”

“It’s in Florida’s best interest to make sure their champion for the President is allowed a fair shot at the White House without being taken down by some fake witch hunt,” Patronis said Monday.

But DeSantis’s campaign account on X, the site formerly known Twitter, quickly chimed in, sharing a story from Politico with the headline, “Some Florida Republicans want taxpayers to pay Trump’s legal bills,” and making his position clear.

“But not the Florida Republican who wields the veto pen,” he quipped.

Democrats in the state legislature also reacted with disapproval.

“Absolutely not,” Rep. Anna Eskamani (D), of Orlando, tweeted.

Patronis was one of the first Florida elected politicians to quickly endorse Trump after DeSantis withdrew from the race on Sunday. State Sen. Ileana Garcia (R) from Miami filed a bill titled “Grants for Victims of Political Discrimination” to support Patronis’s idea. The bill appears to be tailored to Trump’s particular circumstances.

By Monday evening, however, she wrote on X that she’d be withdrawing her support.

“This bill was filed on January 5th amidst a crowded primary, including two Florida residents,” she wrote. “My concern was the political weaponization against conservative candidates.”

She went on to state that Patronis had brought her the bill at a time when “all candidates were committing to campaign through the primary.” She said that the single Florida resident running now for president “can handle himself.”

The bill moved to a committee earlier this month but now has no sponsor.

Republicans in Florida are calculating the best way to move forward in a state where DeSantis remains a powerful executive in Tallahassee, but at the same time support Trump, who has been the favored presidential candidate among many GOP voters here since the race began. Trump moved his official residence to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach in 2019.

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