DeSHAKEDOWN: Did Florida’s GOP governor just commit extortion?

DeSHAKEDOWN: Did Florida's GOP governor just commit extortion?

His presidential campaign isn’t even a week old, and the Republican governor of Florida’s official staff just got caught raising money for him from lobbyists, which could be considered an extortion racket.

Official staffers for Gov. Ron DeSantis are blatantly and aggressively using his administration’s power to help fund a campaign that is, officially, two days old.

Politicians don’t necessarily know a lot of rules, but they should all know one; they cannot mix their official duties with their political campaigns.

Four DeSantis Administration officials—from both his office and agency heads—texted Florida lobbyists with a “donation link” in an attempted  “bundle” fund program. There are over 1800 lobbyists registered with Florida’s government seeking favors from the executive branch alone.

Making matters worse, the DeSantis administration will have a list, and a long memory, regarding who donated and those who didn’t, with another legislative session next year while he’s still in office.

The lobbyists seem pretty well aware of the fact that they’re being illegally extorted, NBC News reports:

“The bottom line is that the administration appears to be keeping tabs on who is giving, and are doing it using state staff, You are in a prisoner’s dilemma. They are going to remain in power. We all understand that.”

Extortion using one’s official position is illegal under the federal Hobbs Act statute. “It’s a rough equivalent of taking a bribe,” says the Department of Justice’s criminal resource manual.

It would be almost impossible to prove in these situations, but not completely impossible. And there are lots of FEC criminal violations that cover it.

This is why the law demands that campaigns have separate offices, staff, phones, computers, and information to prevent political coercion.

Another lobbyist put it more bluntly to NBC:

“What the f*ck am I supposed to do? I have a lot of business in front of the DeSantis administration.”

You are supposed to pay DeSantis’s campaign, dummy.

The dynamic isn’t exactly a MENSA test.

Indeed it’s breathtakingly simple.

The willingness to send direct, traceable texts isn’t a product of ineptitude – it’s audacity and the desire to throw aside rules in a savage display of raw power.

The stark clarity and comprehensiveness of the shakedown dazed Tallahassee into a state of shock.  

“I’m not sure what every EOG staffer does on their free time and after hours, with their first amendment rights,” said a spokesperson from the governor’s statement who remains anonymous and dodged the real issue. “I can confirm I (and many other staff) personally donated.” (EOG is shorthand for the executive office of the Governor.)

“But I wouldn’t be shocked if Team EOG somehow raised more money than lobbyists.”

The answer is perhaps an intentional attempt to confuse the real issue, a tactic the governor’s office has used before.

No one questions that staff has the right to donate to the campaign so long as they do so freely.

The violations occur when “EOG” staff or agency heads text lobbyists and “request” a donation at their link, lobbyists that need permits and approvals from the “EOG” to make money.

That’s extortion.

“At a minimum, even if they are sitting in their home at 9 p.m. using their personal phone and contacting lobbyists that they somehow magically met in their personal capacity,” commented a long-time Florida election law attorney, who cautiously understated the problem, “and not through their role in the governor’s office, it still smells yucky.”

“There’s a misuse of public position issue here that is obvious to anyone paying attention.”


One can almost sense DeSantis’s thought process.

“What are they going to do? Have the FBI swoop in and charge me, too? They can’t investigate both leading GOP candidates. I am completely off the leash.”

Certainly, no one in the Florida A.G.’s office will investigate DeSantis, not in a state where lobbyists and lawyers all bow down to the would-be-new MAGA King.


The entire premise of the DeSantis campaign was “all the MAGA, none of the baggage.”

But even a two-day-old campaign is already openly and shamelessly violating the one rule every politician knows.

All to shakedown anyone wanting to do something big in Florida anytime soon.

“Disloyal DeSantis” does, in fact, demand loyalty.

And he’ll break Rule No. One to get it.

This report is based on original reporting by NBC News’s  and 

This report is based on original reporting by NBC News’s  and 

I can be reached at, and @JasonMiciak

Jason Miciak

Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing.