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

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisSaagar Enjeti: Republicans lost Kentucky by failing to appeal to working class Saagar Enjeti: Republicans lost Kentucky by screwing the working class Burr promises bill to tax scholarships of student athletes who profit off their likenesses MORE (R) said that Lev Parnas, a now-indicted associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report Democrats face make-or-break moment on impeachment 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


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.