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I’m Endorsing Trump, but Florida’s Not Paying His Legal Fees – HotAir

It’s a good thing that Ron DeSantis has headed back to Tallahassee, because the natives have grown … restless? Or just senseless?

Now that Donald Trump has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination, he can focus on the general election, as well as a slew of legal actions. To assist in the latter, Politico reported that “some Florida Republicans” want to set up a $5 million fund to allow taxpayers to cover Trump’s legal fees. DeSantis’ quick response was …

It didn’t take long for DeSantis’ reaction to drive a stake through the heart of this back-door campaign financing. Politico updated its report late last night to note that the bill would be withdrawn:

A push by some Florida Republicans to use taxpayer money to help pay for former President Donald Trump’s multiple legal battles quickly fell apart after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to veto the legislation.

State Sen. Ileana Garcia, a Miami Republican who endorsed Trump’s reelection, has filed a bill for this year’s legislative session that could allow the state to hand out up to $5 million to the embattled Republican front-runner for president. The legislation has already won the endorsement from Jimmy Patronis, the state’s Republican chief financial officer, who for months has been publicly calling for taxpayers to pay to defend Trump from criminal charges.

But Garcia late Monday night announced she would withdraw the bill. Her move came less than two hours after DeSantis publicly posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that he did not support the measure.

DeSantis took a lot of shots in the replies for supposedly undermining his earlier call to unity, but also plenty of support. We’ll get back to that in a second, but Garcia backpedaled quickly herself. Garcia tried to explain in a quote tweet that the situation looked a lot different two weeks ago:

This bill was filed on January 5th amidst a crowded primary, including two Florida residents.

My concern was the political weaponization against conservative candidates, and while @JimmyPatronis brought me this bill at a time when all candidates were committing to campaign through the primary, one frontrunner now remains, and he can handle himself. I will be withdrawing the bill.

This explanation is nonsense, on a couple of levels. On January 5th, Trump clearly had strong leads in all the same polls in which he leads now. Even before Iowa, the primary only had one “frontrunner.” Furthermore, Nikki Haley is still in the primary against Trump, so the primary isn’t technically over yet either.

However, that’s hardly the end to this nonsense, and especially as a unity test, as some Trump supporters attempted to make it. Why should Florida taxpayers pay the legal bills of a multibillionaire, especially since none of the cases involve a Florida state court? In what other possible context would conservatives and/or Republicans countenance such an arrangement? Would Republicans sit quietly while the state of New York handed Joe Biden $5 million for Hunter Biden’s legal defense over alleged political persecution?

More importantly, Garcia and Patronis have to know that Trump pays his legal bills through his campaign operations. There’s nothing illegal about that arrangement, although it’s certainly open to criticism. Trump and his team disclose those payments as required. By providing funding for Trump’s legal bills, Garcia and Patronis would have essentially set up a campaign-financing scheme for Trump by reimbursing campaign expenses. State governments do not belong in that role, unless they are providing public financing for all candidates in an election.

And as for unity, let’s note that Trump didn’t ask for taxpayer money to fund his legal bills. He may have been happy to take it, or perhaps would have eschewed it out of principle and/or legal complications over campaign-finance rules. Nevertheless, Trump didn’t ask for it, and he doesn’t need it. He’ll raise tons of money on his own from people willing to have him cover those legal fees with their donations.

This wasn’t just a dumb idea; it was an outrageous proposal to redistribute public funds for the private use of a presidential candidate that they favor. Garcia and Patronis should be embarrassed by it, and clearly Garcia seems to be in her quick reaction to DeSantis’ immediate and emphatic opposition. DeSantis’ role is to govern and serve Floridians, and in this instance he chose the right path.

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