Ron DeSantis’ PAC raises $1.3 million, Disney, The Villages among contributors

His top donor for April through June was a home-building company run by a state senator’s family.
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a stop at Armwood High School Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in Tampa.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a stop at Armwood High School Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in Tampa.
Published July 10, 2019|Updated July 10, 2019

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political committee raised nearly $1.3 million from April through June, bringing his total to nearly $1.6 million for 2019 so far.

DeSantis’ highest donor for the quarter at $100,000 was The Hutson Companies, the family home-building business of state Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, which operates in northeast Florida. Hutson is listed as the vice president on the company’s website.

“Our family has supported Gov. DeSantis since he was our congressman,” Hutson said in a statement to the Times/Herald. “As governor, he has continued to fight for lower taxes, education opportunities for students and protecting the environment and we couldn’t be more proud of the work he is doing for the people of Florida.”

The development company that built and operates the Villages, a retirement community north of Orlando that serves as a deep Republican stronghold, also gave $50,000, as did Disney and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, a business group that represents some of the state’s largest businesses and special interests.

A $35,000 donation also came from the American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, whose parent company is Assurant, which sells flood insurance. This spring, the state Legislature passed several bills long sought by the insurance industry, which would decrease their liability in certain cases.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the donation.

Notably, DeSantis received about $6,500 in “catering” for a fundraiser, plus $25,000 in cash from Rybovich Boat Company, which belongs to H. Wayne Huizenga Jr., who owns the Rybovich superyacht marina in West Palm Beach. Huizenga is the son of the late billionaire and former Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga, Sr.

DeSantis also received $25,000 from another political committee, called Growing Florida’s Future. That committee has several recent donations from Jacksonville developer John Rood or his company, Vestcor. Rood is a longtime Florida political donor who recently stood to benefit from a workforce housing project in the state budget.

DeSantis, however, vetoed that $8 million project when he signed the budget, saying he didn’t approve of the way that project was earmarked outside of the fund designated for housing developments.

Vestcor didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether that money was intended for DeSantis.

The governor also received several donations from others in state government. Charter Communications, a telecommunications company whose regional vice president is Marva Johnson, the chair of the state Board of Education, pitched in $25,000.

Kent Stermon, a defense contractor who DeSantis named to the Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s public universities, gave $10,000.

Stermon, a longtime friend of the governor whose company contracts with the federal government, was the subject of an ethics complaint filed against then-Congressman DeSantis, after he rented DeSantis a condo in Washington. The complaint never rose to the level of an investigation before DeSantis resigned from Congress to run for governor last year.