Allies Back Down on $5 Million in Florida Funds for Trump’s Legal Bills, DeSantis Threatens to Veto

Allies of former President Donald Trump have introduced a bill in Florida that would establish a fund for “victims of political discrimination” that, if passed, would disperse up to $5 million to eligible candidates to pay their legal fees.
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  • Donald Trump’s Florida allies proposed a bill that’d set up a fund for “victims of political discrimination.”
  • The proposed bill would grant payments of up to $5 million to eligible politicians for legal fees.
  • GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled he’d veto the bill, and a lawmaker said she would withdraw the bill.

One of Florida’s highest-profile billionaires will no longer get state funds to help pay his legal fees, as a newly proposed bill from his allies unraveled on Monday.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump this month introduced a bill in Florida that would establish the “Florida Freedom Fighters Fund” for “victims of political discrimination,” which, if passed, would allow the state’s Department of Financial Services to disperse up to $5 million to eligible politicians from the state’s public campaign-matching funds program to pay legal bills.

The proposal was introduced on January 5 by Florida State Sen. Ileana Garcia and had the support of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — who endorsed Trump less than an hour after DeSantis dropped out of the race on Sunday, per Bloomberg.

Late Monday night, the plan publicly fell apart as Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the race and endorsed Trump over the weekend, signaled on X that he’d veto the bill.

Garcia responded to the Florida governor, saying she would withdraw the bill and that Trump can “handle himself.”

“My concern was the political weaponization against conservative candidates, and while @JimmyPatronis brought me this bill at a time when all candidates were committing to campaign through the primary, one frontrunner now remains, and he can handle himself,” Garcia wrote in her post. “I will be withdrawing the bill.”

Representatives for Garcia and Patronis did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

Just 12 hours earlier, the pair had proudly announced the bill as a way to “put freedom, justice, and her constituents first.”

“We’ve got a Florida Man — Donald Trump — running for president, and he’s facing ongoing legal challenges from Democrats in New York, Washington, DC, and Atlanta,” Patronis said in a statement released Monday morning supporting the bill.

“We need this Freedom Fighters Fund because, as the Free State of Florida, we’re facing an onslaught of attacks from the federal government against the Sunshine State,” the statement continued. “If we can help and support a Florida candidate for the White House, that’s just good from a dollars and cents perspective.”

The campaign-matching funds program is Florida’s way of attempting to even the political playing field, offering matching funds from the state’s general budget for eligible candidates running for state offices who receive individual donations of $250 or less. In 2022, the state spent $13.015 million in matching funds given out to candidates, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, per the Citrus County Chronicle. Florida’s state budget is largely driven by property taxes.

The new bill would modify the existing restrictions on releasing state funds to eligible presidential candidates who live in Florida.

Payments for candidates’ legal fees through the fund would be replenished by voluntary taxpayer donations collected through driver’s license registrations.

According to the bill text, the Department of Financial Services, led by Patronis, would be granted the “sole authority” to determine if a politician has been subject to political discrimination.

Trump, who was mentioned by Patronis as a reason for the proposed $5 million fund, is worth an estimated $2.6 billion, per Forbes.

The former president is battling 91 charges across the four criminal cases against him and multiple civil lawsuits. He claimed late last year that he has racked up $100 million in legal fees, The Hill reported.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.

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