Donald Trump spent around $19 million of Super PAC money paying lawyers in just the first half of 2023. Is it legal for a purported billionaire to use donor money to pay for lawsuits — like the NY fraud suit or the defamation case over digital rape — that have nothing to do with his campaign or elected office? Not according to the statute! But the FEC ruled 4-2 that they won’t enforce the rule against a leadership PAC, so Trump gets to use his supporters’ money to pay his personal bills. Pretty neat.
Now he might no longer be dependent on his followers, with Florida proposing to funnel taxpayer cash to the cause.
On Monday, a new piece of legislation, championed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, was introduced by Florida state Senator Ileana Garcia which would create the “Florida Freedom Fighters Fund.” The fund would provide up to $5 million to cover legal costs for Florida residents who are running for president, like Trump, and face “legal, partisan, political attacks by the Department of Justice or State Attorneys,” according to a release from Patronis’s office.
Florida Republicans have committed themselves to throwing taxpayer funds at frivolous legal expenses — from getting clowned by Disney to provoking half-baked culture wars to fighting a doomed battle against local prosecutors — but at least the state racked up those expenses through its own malfeasance. Now they’re lighting tax revenue on fire to help Donald Trump defend election fraud.
The proposed bill only applies to criminal cases, meaning Trump will still need your donations to pay for his lawyers to yell “mistrial” no particular reason. The Patronis press release is even more bonkers.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “We’ve got a Florida Man – Donald Trump – running for President, and he’s facing ongoing legal challenges from Democrats in New York, Washington DC, and Atlanta.
He. Actually. Wrote. “Florida Man.”
The Left is really good at weaponizing the courts, and because President Biden is so unpopular, they’re not just trying to beat Trump at the ballot box, they’re trying to throw him behind bars, which is outrageous. We need this Freedom Fighters Fund because as the Free State of Florida, we’re facing an onslaught of attacks from the federal government against the Sunshine State. If we can help and support a Florida candidate for the White House, that’s just good from a dollars and cents perspective.
This is absolutely unhinged for an official press release. Not sure a state gets to use the public’s funds to aid a partisan candidate, but whatever. The only rule is there are no rules.
Moreover, if Governor DeSantis makes another run at it, he has said that he too could face the same legal headwinds that President Trump is facing.
Ron DeSantis isn’t getting to the Oval Office unless he gets a job as an intern. He also probably won’t face the same legal headwinds because he’s highly unlikely to have access to classified documents, let alone steal them.
The legislation would frontload $5 million from the state’s Public Campaign Finance – Matching Funds Program, then backfill the funding from voluntary donations via driver’s license registrations. Much like a Risk Management program claim, the funding would be issued from the State CFO for credible candidates.
While still wildly improper, if this law passes, at least the funds will ultimately come from voluntary donations. EXCEPT that’s down the road. For now, the cash comes from the Matching Funds Program, which Florida lawmakers have recently suggested cutting since it comes out of general revenue.
And perhaps that’s the knock on goal here. No one outside the MAGA movement will ever support the Matching Funds Program if they reasonably fear that those funds will get swiped to cover the costs of criminally indicted guys who claim to be billionaires.
Donald Trump Could Get $5 Million Under New Florida Bill [Newsweek]
Earlier: Donald Trump Super PAC Spent Almost $2M On Biglaw Firms In First Half Of 2023
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.