State Watch

Ex-DeSantis staffers form support group

A number of former staffers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have reportedly formed a “support group” in which they reflect on their hardships and difficult experiences from their time working for the governor. 

Politico Playbook reported Friday that roughly a dozen former aides and consultants to the Florida governor all said that the staunch ally of former President Trump treats staff as expendable workers. 

DeSantis is known among Republicans for having a substantially high turnover rate and currently only has two staffers who have stayed with him since his time in Congress. 

According to data compiled by congressional information firm Legistorm, DeSantis ranked in the 70th percentile for the highest turnover in a House office, Playbook noted. 

As DeSantis faces reelection next year and a potential 2024 White House bid, some of the disgruntled former staffers who spoke to Playbook said the governor does not have the type of stable political team that could sustain a national campaign. 

The staffers told Playbook that DeSantis largely relies on himself and his wife, Casey DeSantis, a former local TV journalist, with a limited number of others within the GOP governor’s inner orbit. 

Playbook reported that within six months of taking office in 2019, DeSantis had already fired five staffers, including a 23-year-old scheduler who worked with him since he launched his gubernatorial race. 

Five of the former staffers told Playbook that DeSantis at the beginning of his gubernatorial term directed Florida Republican Party leadership to fire an official who had cancer during the person’s first week back from surgery. 

Former staffers also said that DeSantis and his wife criticized them for their handling of the fallout from a 2018 Fox News interview in which DeSantis told Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by supporting his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who is Black.

Shortly after the incident, DeSantis brought in a new group of advisers. 

In response to Playbook’s request for comment on the stories shared by former staffers, DeSantis chief of staff Adrian Lukis sent a five-page document containing positive statements praising the governor from 14 current and former staffers, as well as consultants and party leaders. 

Former chief of staff Shane Strum wrote, “Throughout my time as Chief of Staff, the Governor empowered me to make sure that everyone who worked for him had the best interests of the state at heart.” 

“We didn’t tolerate leakers, and we didn’t tolerate grifters,” he continued. “Fortunately, aside from some individuals we had to part with early in the administration, the Governor has had a strong and loyal team, who he appreciates.” 

When reached for comment, DeSantis’s office directed The Hill to Dustin Carmack, who worked as the governor’s chief of staff when he served in the House.

In a statement to The Hill, Carmack called Playbook’s report “trash reporting by unnamed sources who face zero accountability for being unnamed.”

“Our office paid historically better than most congressional offices, empowered and hired women leaders in our office,” he added. “Turnover was normal for a hill office and doesn’t account for people going to get better opportunities or rising to become hill chiefs in other offices.” 

On Twitter, Carmack noted that DeSantis and his wife recently attended his wedding and remain “dear friends to this day.” 

“The basis of this story couldn’t be more false,” Carmack added.

Updated: 2:10 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Florida Florida governor Florida governor's race playbook Politico Ron DeSantis Staff turnover
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