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Ron DeSantis taps contractors he rented condo from to his transition panels

The arrangement was subject of an ethics complaint, which was dropped after DeSantis left Congress during his campaign for governor.
Published Dec. 12, 2018
Updated Dec. 12, 2018

For five months in 2016, then-Congressman Ron DeSantis crashed at a beachside condo owned by two federal government contractors who had given his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars.

Now, Gov.-elect DeSantis has named both men to advisory committees guiding his policies on public safety and the economy.

Kent Stermon, chief operating officer of Jacksonville-based Total Military Management, is leading the more than 45 people on his public safety committee, DeSantis announced Tuesday.

Matt Connell, the company's CEO, is on DeSantis' advisory committee about the economy.

They're co-owners of a 1,400-square-foot condo in Palm Coast that DeSantis rented for $2,000 a month after his congressional district was redrawn.

Their company, which lobbies the federal government, contracts with the federal government to relocate military members around the country. The two men, plus their company, have given DeSantis at least $45,000 to his races for Congress and Florida governor since 2012.

After Politico broke the story of the unusual arrangement, a Miami lawyer filed an ethics complaint against DeSantis, arguing that he underpaid for the property. (Reporters from the Huffington Post noted that the rent DeSantis paid was in line with the Zillow estimate.)

An investigation into the complaint was dropped when DeSantis resigned from Congress during his campaign for governor.

A DeSantis spokesman declined to comment Tuesday. In  March, a campaign spokesman told Politico that DeSantis rented the condo from a "friend."

"Ron DeSantis temporarily moved into the condo of a friend while he looked to buy a home in Flagler County," spokesman Brad Herold said. "He paid upfront and above market value."

Times/Herald reporter Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this report.