Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) has been a vocal critic of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (D). New allegations from her accuse DeSantis of conducting a “pay-to-play” scheme for important board spots. The allegations made by Fried allege that DeSantis asked for political donations in order to secure education board spots for donors. Calling the "pay-to-play" accusations “not true,” the Florida Governor responded to his rival after an event over the weekend.
Fried participated in a virtual forum with her Democratic rivals in the upcoming 2022 gubernatorial race. This includes Florida Rep. Charlie Crist (D) and state Senator Annette Taddeo (D). In the forum, Fried explained that “our current board of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000.” She added that if the donors “didn’t give him the campaign contribution, they were not reappointed to the boards.”
Fried did not provide further information regarding the claim, and DeSantis responded to the allegations while speaking to reporters.
Saying that those appointed by him are public record that anyone can look up, and calling Fried’s allegations “obviously false on its face,” he explained that “it would require probably 20 minutes of investigation to be able to” see that he did not appoint donors to important board posts.
“It’s yet another baseless conspiracy charge that’s thrown around. And it’s obviously not true,” he added.
In response, Drew Godinich, Fried’s campaign spokesman, doubled down on commissioner Fried’s claim, saying that “DeSantis’ appointments are stacked with his biggest donors – and the Boards of Trustees are no different.”
He also informed that Commissioner Fried “stands by her comments… and I think it’s very clear that there’s a quid pro quo to obtain those appointments.”
This is not the first “pay-to-play” scheme that Governor DeSantis has been accused of conducting.
Earlier this year, he was alleged to have instituted vaccination sites in areas that contributed to his campaign.