Florida gov says arrested Giuliani associate was seen as a top Trump supporter in the state

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay fines, fees before voting Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling Top Latino group: Trump is about to hold a 'fake Christian campaign rally' MORE (R) said that Lev Parnas, a now-indicted associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing Pompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman MORE, was seen as one of the top supporters of Trump in Florida, though the state leader also described him as "like any other donor."

Parnas and fellow Florida businessman Igor Fruman, who have been mired in the impeachment inquiry focused on Trump's interactions with Ukraine, were arrested last week on campaign finance violation charges

ADVERTISEMENT
 

DeSantis was asked about the two men, who were based in South Florida, by reporters during a press conference, according to The Palm Beach Post.

"This is a guy who was at [Republican National Committee] functions, Trump Victory functions. He was at a lot of these things, was, I think, viewed as one of the top supporters of the president in Florida. It was like any other donor, nothing more than that,” DeSantis told reporters of Parnas at an event in Jupiter, Fla.

He also said he was less familiar with Fruman, who is also a Giuliani associate. 

"I know Parnas, I didn't know the other guy as much," he said, apparently referring to Fruman.  

Fruman and Parnas have been accused of violating campaign finance laws to give money to Republican committees, including a $325,000 contribution in 2018 to a pro-Trump super PAC called America First Action.

Trump has sought to distance himself from Parnas and Fruman, telling reporters last week, "I don’t know those gentlemen." 

Meanwhile, DeSantis was seen in a few pictures with the two men at his election watch party in November, according to The Palm Beach Post.

At the press conference, DeSantis said his team had donated to the U.S. Treasury the $50,000 given to his campaign by a company set up by the two men that prosecutors allege was used to steer foreign donations to campaigns. 

"Once we saw what had happened last week, we went ahead and scourged that money to the Treasury,” the governor said.

“Obviously, had we known that that was going to happen, we would have made different decisions,” DeSantis added.