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DeSantis touting video by Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman draws election complaint

Gov. DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody mentioned the “Sweet Florida” video during a bill-signing event, which a Democratic group said was improper.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis listens to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody during a news conference last year.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis listens to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody during a news conference last year. [ JOE BURBANK | AP ]
Published Apr. 8|Updated Apr. 8

TV ads by political candidates are nothing new. But how about a music video?

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign recently released an original song and accompanying video by Johnny Van Zant, frontman of Jacksonville Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, and his brother, Donnie, called “Sweet Florida.” The lyrics praise the governor for “callin’ out Dr. (Anthony) Fauci” and “fighting for the right to keep our state free.”

But this unusual campaign production is also now the subject of a Florida Elections Commission complaint, filed this week by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century.

In two separate complaints, the group accuses DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody of violating state law by promoting the song at an April 1 bill-signing event where they were serving in their official capacities. Florida law prohibits elected officials from using their “official authority or influence” for the purpose of “influencing another person’s vote or affecting the result.”

A disclaimer on the bottom of the video states that it was paid for by DeSantis’ reelection campaign. The campaign declined to say how much it cost.

Neither DeSantis’ nor Moody’s office immediately responded to an email requesting comment. The two officials have the opportunity to respond to the Commission as it reviews whether the complaints pass legal muster.

A spokesperson for American Bridge said the group filed the complaints just Tuesday morning.

Since then?

DeSantis mentioned the song during at least one other official news conference later that day, as did Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Friday.

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