Ron DeSantis thwarts Florida Republicans’ attempt to fund Donald Trump’s legal battles

Ron DeSantis stands at a podium next to former president Donald Trump

After ending his bid for the White House and endorsing Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis has thwarted an attempt to use Florida funds to pay the former president’s legal fees. 

Florida’s chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis backed a bill that would have created a “Freedom Fighters Fund” to provide up to “$5 million (£3.9 million) in financial support to Florida residents running for president who face legal, partisan, political attacks by the Department of Justice or state attorneys”.

Patronis called Trump a “Florida man” – the former president resides at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach – who is “facing ongoing legal challenges from Democrats” in various states. So, to him, paying off Trump’s legal expenses was “good from a dollars-and-cents perspective”. 

In addition, Republican state senator Ileana Garcia claimed the “Left” was trying to keep Trump off ballots by “weaponising the courts”. 

But governor DeSantis, who recently described the former president as “superior” to Biden, shot down the idea of funding Trump’s legal woes. 

Responding to a Politico story about the fund, with the headline “Some Florida Republicans want taxpayers to pay Trump’s legal bills”, DeSantis wrote on X/Twitter: “But not the Florida Republican who wields the veto pen…”

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Trump is facing 91 felony counts across four criminal cases. They include 44 federal charges and 47 state charges, all of them felonies. The most severe federal counts are those related to obstruction, which is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, The Washington Post has noted.

He has denied all the charges, while also facing a civil lawsuit in New York.

It all comes as Trump strengthens his lead in the Republican nomination race to become the next president, although several states are seeking to have him removed from their general election ballots

DeSantis ended his presidential campaign on Sunday (21 January) after admitting there was no “clear path to victory” for him

Trump, who spent months attacking DeSantis, then described his former rival as a “really terrific person”. 

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