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Ron DeSantis

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Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis (49439832226) (cropped).jpg
DeSantis in 2020
46th Governor of Florida
Assumed office
January 8, 2019
LieutenantJeanette Nuñez
Preceded byRick Scott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – September 10, 2018
Preceded byCliff Stearns
Succeeded byMichael Waltz
Personal details
Born
Ronald Dion DeSantis

(1978-09-14) September 14, 1978 (age 42)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
(m. 2010)
Children3
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion
Alma materYale University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
Occupation
  • Politician
  • lawyer
  • writer
Signature
Websitewww.rondesantis.com
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service2004–2010 (Active)
2010–present (Reserve)
RankU.S. Navy O-4 infobox.svg Lieutenant commander
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsUSN - Fleet Marine Force Officer Insignia.png FMF Warfare Officer Insignia
Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg GWOT Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign Medal

Ronald Dion DeSantis (born September 14, 1978) is an American politician and attorney serving as the 46th governor of Florida since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018. After graduating from Yale University and Harvard Law School, DeSantis served as an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy (JAG).

DeSantis was a candidate in Florida's 2016 U.S. Senate election, but he withdrew when incumbent senator Marco Rubio announced that he would seek reelection. DeSantis then opted to run for reelection to his U.S. House seat. During his tenure in Congress, he became a staunch ally of President Donald Trump. DeSantis made frequent criticisms of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary for the gubernatorial election. He was officially certified as the winner of the general election on November 20, 2018, after a machine recount, defeating the Democratic nominee, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum. At 42, he is the youngest governor in the United States.

Early life and education

Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Karen (née Rogers) and Ronald DeSantis.[1] He is of Italian descent.[2] His family moved to Orlando, Florida, before relocating to Dunedin, Florida, when he was six years old.[3] In 1991, he was a member of the Little League team from Dunedin National that made it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.[4][5]

After graduating from Dunedin High School in 1997, DeSantis attended Yale University. He was captain of Yale's varsity baseball team and joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.[5][6] On the Yale baseball team, DeSantis was an outfielder; as a senior in 2001, he had the team's best batting average at .336.[7][8][9][10]

He graduated from Yale in 2001 with a B.A. magna cum laude in history.[11] He then spent a year as a history teacher at the Darlington School.[12] DeSantis then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005 with a Juris Doctor cum laude.[13][14]

Military service

DeSantis received his Reserve Naval officer's commission and assignment to the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) in 2004 at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Dallas, Texas, while still a student at Harvard Law School. He completed Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders to the JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a prosecutor. In 2006, he was promoted from lieutenant, junior grade to lieutenant. He worked for the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility.[15][16][17]

In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq[18] with the troop surge as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.[15][16][17]

DeSantis returned to the U.S. in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. The U.S. Department of Justice appointed him to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney[18] at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the US Navy Reserve.[19] He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.[15][16][17]

U.S. House of Representatives

2012 election

Official portrait of DeSantis in the U.S. House of Representatives

In 2012, DeSantis announced he would run in the Republican primary for Florida's 6th congressional district. The district had previously been the 7th, represented by 10-term Republican John Mica, but Mica's share of Orlando had been drawn into the new 7th District, and Mica opted to run there even though the new 6th included the bulk of his former territory.

DeSantis won the six-candidate Republican primary with 39% of the vote, with the runner-up, state representative Fred Costello, receiving 23%.[20] In the November general election, DeSantis defeated Democratic nominee Heather Beaven 57–43%, with majorities in all four counties.[21]

Committee assignments

Before the 114th United States Congress, DeSantis was named the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security.[22]

Legislation

On January 29, 2014, DeSantis introduced into the House the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 3973; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Justice to report to Congress whenever any federal agency refrains from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason.[24][25] In the report, the government would have to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law.[26] DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda. ...The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why."[26] The bill did not become law.

In 2013, DeSantis signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, promising to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes.[27]

On August 24, 2017, DeSantis added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would end funding for the Mueller investigation "or for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015" (the month Trump announced he was running for president) 180 days after passage of the bill.[28] The amendment was intended to counter a bipartisan bill written by two Democratic and two Republican U.S. senators, which was intended to limit the president's power to fire the special counsel. The DeSantis amendment sought to cut off funding for the investigation by November 2017. It was also a response to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's statement that the DOJ "doesn't conduct fishing expeditions." DeSantis stated that the DOJ order dated May 17, 2017, "didn't identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition."[29]

DeSantis was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of congressional conservatives and libertarians.[17][30][31]

2016 U.S. Senate candidacy

On May 6, 2015, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by Marco Rubio, who initially did not file to run for reelection due to his bid for the U.S. presidency.[32] He was endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.[33] When Rubio ended his presidential bid and ran for reelection to the Senate, DeSantis withdrew from the Senate race and ran for reelection to the House.

Governor of Florida

DeSantis and his wife, Casey, with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in February 2019

Election

In January 2018, DeSantis announced his candidacy for governor of Florida to succeed term-limited Republican incumbent Rick Scott. Trump said in December 2017 that he would support DeSantis should he run for governor.[34] During the Republican primary, DeSantis emphasized his support for Trump by running an ad in which DeSantis taught his children how to "build the wall" and say "Make America Great Again" and dressed one of his children in a red "Make America Great Again" jumper.[35] Asked if he could name an issue where he disagreed with Trump, DeSantis did not identify one.[36] On July 30, 2018, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times wrote that the support DeSantis's primary campaign had received demonstrated both Trump's king-making capacity in a Republican-trending state and a "broader nationalization of conservative politics" whereby "a willingness to hurl rhetorical lightning bolts at the left, the media and special counsel Robert S. Mueller can override local credentials, local endorsements and preparedness for a state-based job."[36]

On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary. His Democratic opponent in the general election was Andrew Gillum.[37] The race was "widely seen as a toss-up".[38]

In September 2018, DeSantis announced state representative Jeanette Núñez as his running mate.[39] He resigned his House seat on September 10, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.[40] The same month, DeSantis was criticized for not having a fully formed policy platform.[41] He canceled a planned interview with the Tampa Bay Times to have additional time to put together a platform before an in-depth policy interview.[41]

DeSantis was endorsed by the Florida Police Chiefs Association.[42] In the campaign, some sheriffs endorsed DeSantis, while other sheriffs backed Gillum.[43]

Platform

DeSantis's gubernatorial platform included support for legislation that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms openly.[44] He also supported a law mandating the use of E-Verify by businesses and a state-level ban on sanctuary city protections for undocumented immigrants.[44] DeSantis promised to stop the spread of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee.[44] He expressed support for a state constitutional amendment to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases.[45] DeSantis opposed allowing able-bodied, childless adults to receive Medicaid.[45] He said he would implement a medical marijuana program, but he opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana.[45][46][47]

Results

Initial election-night results had DeSantis winning by nearly 100,000 votes, and Gillum conceded.[48] Gillum took back his concession after late-counted ballots brought the race within less than 34,000 votes, a margin of 0.4%. The close margin required an automatic machine recount of the ballots.[49]

A machine recount in three statewide contests (governor, U.S. senator, and agriculture commissioner) began with a November 15 deadline. Although three counties missed the deadline, it was not extended.[50][51] DeSantis was confirmed as the winner and Gillum conceded on November 17.[52]

Tenure

DeSantis prefiled the oath of office with the Florida Secretary of State and became governor on January 8, 2019.[53] The official swearing-in ceremony was held at noon that day. On January 11, DeSantis posthumously pardoned the Groveland Four, four black men falsely convicted of rape in 1949.[54]

In January 2019, DeSantis officially suspended Broward County sheriff Scott Israel for his response to the mass shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. DeSantis appointed Gregory Tony sheriff of Broward County. In 2020, Tony admitted to withholding a murder arrest from DeSantis during the vetting process. Although DeSantis had originally touted the appointment, he later distanced himself from Tony after Tony's past was brought to light. DeSantis's office had requested a background check on Tony just one day before DeSantis made the appointment.[55]

In his first two weeks in office, DeSantis appointed Barbara Lagoa, Robert J. Luck and Carlos G. Muñiz to fill the three vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, shifting the court's majority from liberal to conservative. He replaced the entire South Florida Water Management District board. He signed a $2.5 billion executive order for water quality and Everglades restoration work.[56] In January 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order calling for the end of Common Core in Florida.[57]

DeSantis encouraged Florida sheriffs to cooperate with the federal government on immigration-related issues.[58] In June 2019, he signed an anti-"sanctuary city" bill in law; the legislation required law enforcement "to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers for undocumented immigrants who are arrested or convicted" of crimes. There were no sanctuary cities in Florida before the law's enactment, and immigration advocates called the bill politically motivated.[59][60][61][62] Florida became the 12th state to adopt legislation requiring local governments to aid federal immigration-enforcement efforts.[63] In June 2020, DeSantis signed a bill requiring government employers and private companies that contract with the government to use E-Verify.[64][65][66] He had originally called for all employers to be required to use it.[67]

In June 2019, DeSantis signed a measure that would make it harder to launch successful ballot initiatives. Petition-gathering for ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana, increases to the minimum wage, and expansion of Medicaid were also under way.[68][69][70]

In March 2020, DeSantis decided against declaring a state of emergency in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic.[71][72]

After the 2020 Republican National Convention was pulled from its originally scheduled host city, Charlotte, following conflict between Trump and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper over plans for a large-scale gathering without public-health protocols in place to prevent spread of COVID-19, DeSantis campaigned to have Florida be the new host state.[73] He competed with similar entreaties from Tennessee and Georgia. DeSantis won, with the main festivities of the RNC, including Trump's keynote speech, relocated to Jacksonville.[74][75] Ultimately, the entire event was scrapped in favor of rallies online and on television.[76]

DeSantis openly supported Trump's legal disputes of the 2020 United States presidential election, urging him to "fight on" and suggesting state legislatures of states won by Joe Biden could revolt and select slates of presidential electors that would instead vote for Trump.[77][78]

in January 2021, legislation drafted by DeSantis was introduced to the Florida Senate seeking to protect Confederate monuments; permit the state to overrule local governments' decisions in reducing funding for police; waive sovereign immunity for municipalities, thereby allowing local authorities to be sued for providing inadequate law enforcement; and block people injured while participating in protests from receiving damages.[79] American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Kara Gross described the bill as an attempt "to silence and criminalize Black protesters and their allies who are exercising their First Amendment rights."[79] When the bill was introduced on January 6, 2021, the same day as the storming of the U.S. Capitol, DeSantis said the legislation was a countermeasure to prevent similar events from occurring.[79][80]

On February 2, 2021, DeSantis announced his support of legislation to crack down on Big Tech and prevent alleged political censorship.[81][82][83] He also announced his support of a number of election law restrictions.[84][85][86][87] The same month, the Biden administration mulled imposing travel restrictions on Florida and other domestic locations to prevent further spread of COVID-19.[88][89] DeSantis expressed his discontent with what he falsely characterized as "trying to shut FL’s border" and announced his intention to fervently oppose it if executed.[90][91]

In March 2021, DeSantis proposed legislation to impose restrictions and stricter requirements for Florida universities to collaborate with Chinese academics and universities; he said this would crack down on economic espionage by China.[92][93][94][95] In May 2021, he signed a deal with The Seminole Tribe of Florida.[96]

In its 2021 session, the Florida legislature passed DeSantis's top priorities.[97][98]

COVID-19 pandemic

DeSantis sits with Vice President Mike Pence at a local restaurant in May 2020

Scientists and media outlets have given mixed reviews of DeSantis's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.[99][100][101] According to the Sun-Sentinel, "DeSantis, who owes his job to early support from President Donald Trump, imposed an approach in line with the views of the president and his powerful base of supporters. The administration suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters who supported the governor’s approach to the disease."[100] By April 2021, Florida ranked in the middle of the pack for both cases and deaths on a per capita basis, placing 27th out of 50 in both measures.[102] A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found substantial underreporting of deaths from COVID-19 in Florida during March to September 2020. Experts noted similar underreporting has occurred throughout the United States.[103][104]

According to public health experts, politics rather than science dictated Florida's response to COVID-19.[99] DeSantis rejected the implementation of a statewide face mask mandate, belatedly implemented stay-at-home orders, and let his stay-at-home order implemented in April expire.[99] In July 2020, when Florida was a global epicenter of the coronavirus with nearly 5,800 deaths, DeSantis largely sidelined health experts and scientists, with The Washington Post reporting that he relied primarily on his wife, a former television reporter, and his chief of staff, a former hospital executive.[99]

DeSantis's handling of COVID-19 in Florida was initially unpopular among the state's voters: as of May 2020, DeSantis was the only U.S. governor whose approval declined after COVID-19 became widespread in the U.S.[105] But after a few months, DeSantis's reluctance to impose restrictions in response to the pandemic led to an increase in approval, especially among Republican voters.[106] By February 2021, he generally had positive approval ratings, ranging from 51% to 64%.[107][108][109]

Early in the pandemic, DeSantis boasted about the low number of COVID-19 cases in Florida, and harshly criticized those who had argued that the state's lax response to the virus was insufficient.[99][110] Experts argued that delays in lockdown would greatly increase Florida's covid numbers and leave it susceptible to becoming a new hot spot.[111]

On March 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention privately briefed DeSantis that Florida was already experiencing community spread of COVID-19. The next day, he publicly denied that Florida was experiencing community spread of COVID-19.[112] On March 10, federal official Anthony Fauci publicly confirmed that Florida had community spread. DeSantis confirmed Florida's community spread only on March 14.[112]

By the end of March 2020, Florida had 6,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19. DeSantis declared that he would not issue a statewide stay-at-home order because the Trump administration had not recommended it.[113] On April 1, he ordered that all Floridians stay home for 30 days with exceptions for essential services and activities.[114] He received criticism for falsely stating on April 9 that COVID-19 had caused no fatalities under 25 in the United States. DeSantis acknowledged this error after critics pointed it out, and clarified that there have been no deaths from the virus in people under 25 in Florida.[115][116] In early June, he partially lifted his stay-at-home order, lifting restrictions on bars and cinemas; the same day he lifted the restrictions, Florida recorded the largest case surge in six weeks.[99]

DeSantis sought to have the 2020 Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. In conversations with Trump in May, he said he would not require the use of face masks.[99] By July, as Florida became a global epicenter of the virus, Trump called off the event.[99] During Trump's reelection campaign, DeSantis worked to help him win Florida. He attended Trump's rallies and high-fived attendees while not wearing a mask, contrary to public health guidance at the time.[117][118]

In June 2020, DeSantis said the bulk of new cases were present in "younger demographics" and argued that increased testing, particularly of asymptomatic individuals, and more efficient identification of outbreaks in areas such as prisons and in Florida's agriculture sector were responsible for most of the increase. He emphasized that the strain on the hospital system and medical supplies such as ventilators had decreased since the previous peak in case numbers, and that Florida was ready to handle any additional influx in hospital patients, adding that the state had "twice as many" open hospital beds than on March 1. DeSantis announced that he would reinstate some restrictions on business activity in late June to halt the virus's spread, but said Florida is "not going back" on reopening the economy, arguing that "people going to a business is not what's driving" the surge in cases. Anthony Fauci said that states reopening faster than federal guidelines were contributing to a rise in cases.[119]

On June 28, 2020, DeSantis said Florida was in "good shape" in its fight against COVID-19.[120] In September 2020, he lifted all restrictions on capacity in bars and restaurants, despite persistent cases.[121][122] He banned cities and counties from collecting fines from face mask mandates[122] and urged public health officials in Florida cities to focus less on universal COVID-19 testing.[123]

The DeSantis administration largely ignored the scientists in Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, the Sun-Sentinel reported.[112] Instead, in August and September 2020, DeSantis invited to Florida other scientists who endorsed less restrictive COVID-19 policies that he agreed with, so that they could conduct press conferences with him.[112] They included radiologist Scott Atlas, a Trump administration advisor known for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.[6][112]

DeSantis favored reopening schools for in-person learning for the 2020–21 school year.[124] By October, he announced all 67 public school districts were open for in-person learning.[124]

In February 2021, DeSantis threatened to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from counties that criticized the manner in which vaccines were distributed.[125][126]

In May 2021, DeSantis signed a bill into law that prohibited businesses, schools and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination for use of services.[127]

Political positions

DeSantis speaking at the Hudson Institute in June 2015

DeSantis is a conservative.[128][129][130] He was endorsed by the Family Research Council Action PAC in 2015.[131]

Marijuana

DeSantis supports the implementation of a medical marijuana program in Florida, but opposes legalizing recreational marijuana.[45][46][47][132] He voted against the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would give veterans access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state.[133]

In early 2019, DeSantis and Representative Matt Gaetz held a press conference with John Morgan, a prominent medical marijuana advocate and former Democrat, attempting to persuade the Florida legislature to lift a ban on smokable medical marijuana. According to sources involved, it was orchestrated by Gaetz, whom DeSantis "trusted".[134]

Contraceptives and abortion

DeSantis opposes abortion[135] and has denounced Planned Parenthood.[136]

DeSantis agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., saying "This case does not concern the availability or legality of contraceptives, and individuals can obtain and use these as they see fit. The question is simply whether the government can force the owners of Hobby Lobby to pay for abortifacients in violation of their faith."[137]

Economy

DeSantis has said that the debate over how to reduce the federal deficit should shift emphasis from tax increases to curtailing spending and triggering economic growth.[138] He supports a "no budget no pay" policy for Congress to encourage the passage of a budget.[139] He believes the Federal Reserve System should be audited.[140]

In the wake of the alleged IRS targeting controversy, DeSantis called for IRS commissioner John Koskinen's resignation for having "failed the American people by frustrating Congress's attempts to ascertain the truth."[141][142] He co-sponsored a bill to impeach Koskinen for violating the public's trust.[143] In 2015, Citizens Against Government Waste, a conservative think tank, named DeSantis a "Taxpayer Superhero".[144]

DeSantis supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require that regulations that have a significant economic impact be subject to a vote of Congress prior to taking effect.[145]

DeSantis introduced the Let Seniors Work Act, which would repeal the Retirement Earnings Test and exempt senior citizens from the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax, and co-sponsored a measure to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits.[146]

DeSantis sponsored the Transportation Empowerment Act, which would transfer much of the responsibility for transportation projects to the states and sharply reduce the federal gas tax.[147][148]

DeSantis has opposed legislation to require online retailers to collect and pay state sales tax.[149]

DeSantis voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[150] He said the bill would bring a "dramatically lower tax rate", "full expensing of capital investments", and more jobs to America.[151]

Education

DeSantis opposes federal education programs such as No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top, saying that education policy should be made at the local level.[140]

In 2016, DeSantis introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would allow states to create their own accreditation systems. In an op-ed for National Review, DeSantis said that his legislation would give students "access to federal loan money to put towards non-traditional educational opportunities, such as online learning courses, vocational schools, and apprenticeships in skilled trades."[152]

Foreign relations

DeSantis watches as President Donald Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan American community in February 2019

Cuba

In 2015, DeSantis introduced the Guantanamo Bay Recidivism Prevention Act, which would cut off foreign aid to countries that receive detainees if they show back up on the terrorism recidivism list.[153]

DeSantis opposed President Obama's plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, saying, "Bringing hardened terrorists to the U.S. homeland harms our national security."[154]

Regarding the formal restart of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, DeSantis said, "Raising the Cuban flag in the United States is a slap in the face to those who have experienced the brutality of the Castro regime."[155]

Iran

DeSantis opposed the Iran nuclear deal framework, calling it "a bad deal that will significantly degrade our national security."[156] He added, "the Iran deal gives Ayatollah Khamenei exactly what he wants: billions of dollars in sanctions relief, validation of the Iranian nuclear program, and the ability to stymie inspections."[157]

During a line of questioning, DeSantis told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the executive branch had a legal obligation to provide Congress with the details behind any side deals made between world leaders and Iran.[158] He accused Obama of treating Cuba's Raul Castro and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei better than Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.[159]

Israel

DeSantis with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May 2019

In 2013, DeSantis introduced the Palestinian Accountability Act, which would halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it formally recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and cuts off all ties with the militant group Hamas.[160]

In 2016, DeSantis co-introduced the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, which would defend the right of Israeli producers to label products manufactured in the West Bank as "Israeli", "Made in Israel," or "Product of Israel."[161] He supported the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[162]

As governor, DeSantis pledged to be "the most pro-Israel governor in America".[163] In light of Airbnb's decision to no longer allow rentals of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, on January 15, 2019, DeSantis directed the Department of Management Services to no longer reimburse state employees and state contractors for travel expenses incurred with Airbnb;[164] later that month he accepted the State Board of Administration's recommendation to place Airbnb on Florida's "Scrutinized Companies List".[165] In May, DeSantis visited Israel, accompanied by megadonor to his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and staunch Zionist Sheldon Adelson, to attend a ceremony held between Florida Atlantic University and Ariel University, celebrating the agreement of a plan to exchange and research opportunities between the universities' respective students.[163][166]

Government

DeSantis opted not to receive his congressional pension, and filed a measure that would eliminate pensions for members of Congress.[140] After introducing the End Pensions in Congress Act, DeSantis said, "The Founding Fathers envisioned elected officials as part of a servant class, yet Washington has evolved into a ruling class culture."[167]

DeSantis supports a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress, so that U.S. representatives would be limited to three terms and senators to two.[168] He held himself to this standard, serving three terms as a U.S. representative.[169]

Gun law

DeSantis opposes gun control. He received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.[170] He generally opposes firearm regulation, saying, "Very rarely do firearms restrictions affect criminals. They really only affect law-abiding citizens."[171]

After the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, DeSantis expressed his support for hiring retired law enforcement officers and military veterans as armed guards for schools.[172] He disagrees with legislation Governor Rick Scott signed that banned bump stocks, added a mandatory three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and raised the legal age for purchases from 18 to 21.[16] He has expressed support for measures to improve federal background checks for purchasing firearms and has said that there is a need to intervene with those who are exhibiting warning signs of committing violence instead of waiting until a crime has been committed.[172]

In November 2020, DeSantis proposed an "anti-mob" extension to the preexisting stand-your-ground law in Florida that would allow gun-owning residents to use deadly force on individuals they believe are looting. It would also make blocking traffic during a protest a third-degree felony and impose criminal penalties for partaking in "violent or disorderly assemblies".[173]

Health care

DeSantis opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[174][175] He has called for its "full and complete repeal".[174]

In March 2017, DeSantis said he was not ready to support the American Health Care Act, the House Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.[176] He did vote for the May 2017 Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.[177][178]

On March 29, 2021, DeSantis announced he would sign an executive order prohibiting vaccine passports in Florida and ask the legislature to pass an identical statute.[179][180]

Immigration

DeSantis was a critic of Obama's immigration policies; he opposed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and accused him of failing to enforce immigration laws.[181][182] DeSantis opposes "sanctuary cities."[183] He is a co-sponsor of the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, also known as Kate's Law, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter the United States after being removed.[184] In 2017, DeSantis spoke at ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim advocacy group.[185]

After the November 2015 Paris attacks, DeSantis "called for urgent recognition that Islamic extremism is to blame for the Paris attacks and should be seen as an enemy for America." He has said, "The enemy is an ideology rooted in militant Islam" and that ISIS must be stopped and its members kept away from America.[186] Of U.S. policy toward refugees, DeSantis said, "the prudent policy is to err on the side of protecting the American people".[187]

LGBT rights

DeSantis has a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his voting record on LGBT-related issues and legislation.[188][189] In 2018, he told the Sun Sentinel that he "doesn't want any discrimination in Florida, I want people to be able to live their life, whether you're gay or whether you're religious."[190]

In January 2019, less than a week after taking office, DeSantis issued a nondiscrimination order for state employees reiterating former governor Scott's order; the order included race, age, sex, color, religion, national origin, marital status, and disability, but had no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. Equality Florida strongly criticized DeSantis, with the organization's senior political director saying that it was "deeply disappointed to see that LGBTQ employees and contractors have been left out of the governor's executive order."[191] Scott had pledged to sign an LGBT-inclusive order as governor, but did not follow through on the grounds that proper federal protections existed.[192]

In June 2019, DeSantis's office issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the June 12, 2016, Orlando nightclub shooting at the Pulse gay bar and nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and 50 others were injured by Omar Mateen. The proclamation did not include any reference to the LGBT community, sparking severe criticism and accusations that DeSantis intentionally omitted the category from the message; Democratic state representatives Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is openly gay, lambasted DeSantis, while gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in a school shooting in Broward County a year earlier, asked whether the omission was predetermined. DeSantis reissued the proclamation with revisions including mentions of the LGBT community, and a spokesperson said the omission was an error by DeSantis's staff. Scott included an LGBT reference in a previous Pulse memorial message.[193]

Russia investigation

According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis "made a name for himself [in 2017] attacking special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election."[194]

DeSantis proposed an amendment that would halt funding for Mueller's 2017 Special Counsel investigation probe six months after the amendment's passage.[195] In addition, the provision would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign.[196] In December 2017, DeSantis asserted that if there was any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, it would already have been leaked.[197]

In January 2018, while on the House Intelligence Committee, DeSantis voted on party lines to release a classified memo authored by Republicans on the committee which purported to show that the FBI abused its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation.[198] He voted not to release a memo authored by Democrats on the committee that accused Republicans on the committee of playing politics with national security.[198] Democrats described the Republican-authored memo as grossly distorted and intended to discredit Mueller's investigation, and said that the Republicans on the committee had begun an investigation into the FBI and DOJ.[198]

In April 2018, DeSantis called on FBI director Christopher Wray to criminally investigate a number of officials involved in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including former FBI director James Comey, former acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI counsel Lisa Page.[199] He also called for investigations of a number of former Obama officials, including Loretta Lynch and Hillary Clinton.[200]

On October 10, 2019, a spokesman for DeSantis announced that he would be "returning a political contribution he received from two Soviet-born businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, through their company Global Energy Producers. Parnas and Fruman are accused of funneling foreign cash into U.S. elections to increase their influence and promote their business interests; they are central figures in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and impeachment inquiry. "They made the donation a day before Trump tweeted his 'full endorsement' of DeSantis."[201]

Technology companies

In response to social media networks removing Trump from their platforms, DeSantis and other Florida Republicans pushed legislation in the Florida legislature to prohibit technology companies from de-platforming political candidates.[202] When Twitter suspended DeSantis administration critic Rebekah Jones's account for violating rules against spam and platform manipulation, DeSantis's office applauded the decision, calling it "long overdue".[203][204]

Veterans

DeSantis has sharply criticized the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014, in which veteran deaths were linked to wait times. He co-sponsored the VA Accountability Act, which aims to increase accountability by providing for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct.[205][206] He is a member of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.[207] DeSantis worked with a Marine Corps veteran of Afghanistan, Cole Lyle, and a nonprofit in his district, K9s for Warriors, to advance the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016.[208] The bill sought to expand veteran access to service dogs as a form of treatment for Post Traumatic Stress at the VA. The bill did not pass in the 115th Congress, but a modified version passed the House of Representatives in 2019.[209][210]

Voting rights

DeSantis expressed support for the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative after it passed in November 2018, saying that he was "obligated to faithfully implement [it] as it is defined" when he became governor. After he refused to restore the voting rights for felons with unpaid fines, which voting rights groups said was inconsistent with the results of the referendum, he was challenged in court. The Florida Supreme Court sided with DeSantis on the issue,[211] and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit also sided with DeSantis in a 6–4 ruling.[212]

DeSantis instructed Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate allegations of voter fraud perpetrated by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after he announced a $16 million investment to pay off the financial obligations for felons so they may vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election in Florida. The allegations asserted Bloomberg had broken the law by offering incentives to vote.[213]

After Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to concede while making false claims of fraud, DeSantis and other Republicans proposed changes to restrict voting rights in Florida. DeSantis called for eliminating ballot drop boxes, as well as limiting voting by mail by requiring that voters re-register every year to vote by mail and requiring that signatures on mail-in ballots "must match the most recent signature on file" (rather than any of the voter's signatures in the Florida system).[214][215] The changes to mail-in voting were notable given that Republicans had traditionally voted by mail more than Democrats, but Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail in 2020.[214] According to a Tampa Bay Times analysis, DeSantis's signature match proposal could have led to rejections of his own mail-in ballots due to changes in his signature history over time; voting rights experts argued that the signature matching proposal could be used to disenfranchise voters whose signatures varied over time.[215]

Law enforcement

DeSantis called for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to resign after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Many people accused Israel of running his department poorly and not properly handling or responding to the shooting. DeSantis said that had he been governor when the shooting occurred he would have removed Israel from his position.[216][217] On January 11, shortly after taking office as governor, DeSantis suspended Israel from his duties. Israel declared that he intended to contest his suspension. On October 23, the Florida Senate voted 25–15 to permanently remove him.[218]

Personal life

Ron and Casey DeSantis in January 2019

DeSantis is a Roman Catholic.[219] In 2010, he married Casey Black, a former television host for the Golf Channel and WJXT. They lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, near St. Augustine, until it was drawn into the neighboring 4th district. They then moved to Palm Coast, north of Daytona Beach.[220][221] They have three children.[222]

DeSantis played on the field the day of the Congressional baseball shooting, and while not present at the time it occurred, he and fellow Representative Jeff Duncan reportedly met the perpetrator beforehand and were asked by him whether Republicans or Democrats were playing that day.[223]

Publications

  • DeSantis, Ron (2011). Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama. Jacksonville: High-Pitched Hum Publishing. ISBN 978-1-934666-80-7.

Electoral history

2012 Florida's 6th congressional district election[224]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis 195,962 57.3
Democratic Heather Beaven 146,489 42.8
Total votes 342,451 100.0
Republican hold
2014 Florida's 6th congressional district election[225]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis (incumbent) 166,254 62.5
Democratic David Cox 99,563 37.5
Total votes 265,817 100.0
Republican hold
2016 Florida's 6th congressional district election[226]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis (incumbent) 213,519 58.6
Democratic Bill McCullough 151,051 41.4
Total votes 364,570 100.0
Republican hold
2018 Florida gubernatorial election[227]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis
Jeanette Nuñez
4,076,186 49.6
Democratic Andrew Gillum
Chris King
4,043,723 49.2
Reform Darcy Richardson
Nancy Argenziano
47,140 0.6
Independent Kyle "KC" Gibson
Ellen Wilds
24,310 0.3
Independent Ryan Christopher Foley
John Tutton Jr.
14,630 0.2
Independent Bruce Stanley
Ryan McJury
14,505 0.2
Write-in 67 0.0
Total votes 8,220,561 100.0
Republican hold

Primary elections

2012 Florida's Republican 6th congressional district primary[228]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis 24,132 38.8
Republican Fred Costello 14,189 22.8
Republican Beverly Slough 8,229 13.2
Republican Craig Miller 8,113 13.1
Republican Richard Clark 6,090 9.8
Republican Alec Pueschel 739 1.2
Republican William Billy Kogut 628 1.0
Total votes 62,120 100.0
2016 Florida's Republican 6th congressional district primary[229]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis (incumbent) 41,311 61.0
Republican Fred Costello 16,690 24.7
Republican G.G. Galloway 9,683 14.3
Total votes 67,684 100.0
2018 Florida Republican gubernatorial primary[230]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron DeSantis 913,679 56.5
Republican Adam Putnam 591,449 36.6
Republican Bob White 32,580 2.0
Republican Timothy M. Devine 21,320 1.3
Republican Bob Langford 19,771 1.2
Republican Bruce Nathan 14,487 0.9
Republican Don Baldauf 13,125 0.8
Republican John Joseph Mercadante 11,602 0.7
Total votes 1,618,013 100.0

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External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cliff Stearns
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th congressional district

2013–2018
Succeeded by
Michael Waltz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rick Scott
Republican nominee for Governor of Florida
2018
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Rick Scott
Governor of Florida
2019–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kamala Harris
as Vice President
Order of precedence of the United States
Within Florida
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the US House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gretchen Whitmer
as Governor of Michigan
Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Florida
Succeeded by
Greg Abbott
as Governor of Texas