NewsLocal NewsI-Team Investigations

Actions

'Ready for Ron': Political action committee seeks to draft DeSantis to run for president in 2024

Committee asks Federal Election Commission for guidance
Ready for Ron2.png
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 06:00:28-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A new political action committee is asking the Federal Election Commission to approve fundraising and other efforts in support of a Ron DeSantis 2024 presidential campaign.

The name of the committee, which was established in late May, is “Ready for Ron.”

“Ready for Ron” is not part of DeSantis's campaign

The PAC is not directly affiliated with the campaign, but if DeSantis does choose to run it could provide valuable help to his efforts down the road when it comes to emails and cell phone numbers associated with supporters and a list of likely campaign donors. Since it operates separately, an official campaign would have to purchase that information from the PAC.

Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly deflected questions about a 2024 presidential run.

“What is this obsession with 2024? We don’t even have the ‘22 election,” Gov. DeSantis said at a recent press conference in Broward County.

“I’m not considering anything beyond doing my job. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in Florida,” DeSantis told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview in October.

“Ready for Ron” is emailing potential voters and running ads on TV and social media sites trying to “draft” DeSantis as a presidential candidate.

The first ad starts with a video of former President Ronald Reagan talking about the dangers of liberalism, then features side-by-side images of Reagan and DeSantis.

“We have only begun to fight,” DeSantis tells attendees at a CPAC convention.

“To beat Biden, America needs a fighter. America needs Ron DeSantis,” a narrator said in the ad.

Video ad compares Ronald Reagan and Ron DeSantis
Ad compares Ronald Reagan and Ron DeSantis.

PAC seeks FEC guidance

“I’ve heard the speculation. Some individuals say that he would make a great president, primarily because of his conservative values,” said Dr. Al-Aakhir Rogers, a Tampa electrical engineer who said he supports a potential DeSantis candidacy.

“He’s a Trump little protégé,” said Ramona Glasgow, a self-described liberal who believes DeSantis should stay out of the race.

Adam Walser and Dr. Al-Aakhir Rogers discussing new "Ready for Ron" PAC
Adam Walser and Dr. Al-Aakhir Rogers discussing new "Ready for Ron."

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission sent in late May, “Ready for Ron” said it “seeks to identify, measure, and assist in generating grassroots support for a DeSantis candidacy.”

The PAC is asking for the FEC’s blessing to conduct fundraising and advocacy efforts without triggering “Testing the Waters” provisions that could trigger campaign contribution limits if DeSantis declares his candidacy down the road.

The PAC informed the FEC that by June 12, it had run television ads 86 times and said digital ads had more than 318,000 impressions.

“This group is seeking to be able to raise unlimited amounts of money to advance the potential candidacy of Ron DeSantis,” said Daniel I. Weiner, who is Director of Elections and Government for the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan think tank affiliated with New York University School of Law.

Weiner previously worked as an attorney for an FEC commissioner.

Dr. Dan Weiner.png
Dr. Dan Weiner.

2010 Supreme Court Ruling allows for little oversight of PACs

He said that there are many PACs being established to support various candidates and issues.

“I would say thousands. Yes. Ever since the Supreme Court swept away safeguards in campaign finance, groups like these have proliferated,” Weiner said.

A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United vs. FEC case said individuals and corporations could make unlimited donations to PACs, as long as they don’t coordinate directly with political campaigns.

“Now you have this kind of complicated dance that folks go through where they engage in these activities, but they want to show that they are not actually coordinating with the candidate,” Weiner said.

Weiner said PACs don’t have stringent rules like campaigns so they can spend money and use the information they collect however they choose.

“Even if you support Gov. DeSantis, which many people do, you want to make sure that you do end up actually giving money to advance his candidacy, not to just enrich some guy who’s running ads,” Weiner said.

Political veteran forms PACs supporting Trump and DeSantis presidential runs

Ed Rollins who was national campaign director for Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential campaign is one of the organizers of “Ready for Ron.”

Rollins is also behind the Donald Trump Great America PAC supporting DeSantis’ potential rival in the primary.

Email solicitation from Save America PAC supporting Donald Trump
Email solicitation from Save America PAC supporting Donald Trump.

Rollins told us in a short phone conversation that the 2024 Republican primary field is wide open and neither Trump nor DeSantis has announced.

Al-Aakhir Rogers said he would likely support a DeSantis presidential run, but he won’t give his personal information to a group like Ready for Ron.

He said that would be giving his name, email and phone number to a group he knows very little about.

“I have now given authorization for you to put my email address on anything that you could send to me,” he said. “You’re gonna get a whole bunch of spam.”

“It’s always a buyer beware situation. You should do your research before you donate to any effort,” Weiner said.

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com