Donald Trump’s Super PAC is escalating their feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by accusing him of breaking state ethics and election laws with his “shadow presidential campaign.” Make America Great Again Inc. has filed a 15-page complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics, alleging that pro-DeSantis super PACs, his “personally lucrative book tour,” and state-level campaign contributions are illegal because they serve his personal political objectives and financial gain at the expense of Florida taxpayers. They also claim that these actions are intended to influence his official decision to resign from office.

Trump announced in November 2021 that he is running for president again and has become more openly hostile towards DeSantis, who is expected to be his main rival in the Republican primaries. This includes calling DeSantis by Trump’s trademark nicknames and portraying him as a political moderate out of touch with the GOP base. However, this complaint marks the first time Trump’s supporters have elevated the feud from campaign trail rhetoric to a formal legal fight.

DeSantis’ communication director, Taryn Fenske, responded to the complaint, calling it “frivolous and politically motivated.” She also stated that using state ethics for partisan purposes is inappropriate. Trump’s allies may face difficulty in persuading the commission to investigate DeSantis since he appointed five of the nine members. If the governor were to face penalties, they could range from fines and public censure to ballot disqualification, removal from office, or impeachment.

The draft complaint outlines DeSantis’ recent actions that suggest he is preparing to run for president. Although he has not yet announced his candidacy, the complaint alleges that he has already checked all the boxes for someone considering a White House bid. These include making stops in early primary states, writing a book, raising tens of millions of dollars for a state-level committee that could be transferred to a federal super PAC, and seeing a constellation of supporter-led super PACs and an outside nonprofit group appear, some with the goal of persuading DeSantis to run for president.

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