DeSantis Abuses His Power
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is facing allegations of retaliating against a fellow Republican, state Senator Joe Gruters, due to Gruters’ endorsement of former President Donald Trump for the 2024 presidential campaign. In an apparent display of disapproval, DeSantis vetoed several projects, including ones in the Sarasota area, prompting Gruters to criticize the governor’s actions.
According to Newsweek, Gruters, who previously chaired the Florida Republican Party and has been a staunch ally of Trump, expressed disappointment in DeSantis for prioritizing politics over the welfare of Sarasota County residents. Gruters emphasized that both he and Trump believe in prioritizing the people’s needs, such as clean water, job opportunities, and a better future for America’s next generation. Gruters highlighted the difference in political perspectives between himself and the governor.
While numerous Florida Republicans have shown support for Trump over DeSantis, including 12 congressional Republicans, Gruters is the sole state legislator to endorse Trump for 2024. In contrast, DeSantis has garnered endorsements from 23 state senators and 77 state representatives.
DeSantis’ office refuted Gruters’ accusations of vindictive vetoes as a response to the senator’s endorsement. The governor’s spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, dismissed Gruters’ claim, stating that it was absurd to turn conservative governance and fiscal responsibility into a political statement. Redfern also noted that DeSantis had approved over $125 million for projects in Sarasota County.
Upon signing Florida’s $116.5 billion budget, DeSantis announced the list of vetoed items, which included $29 million designated for Sarasota projects. Notable among the vetoes were funds for a STEM nursing facility at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota campus, a road expansion, and resources for the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. Gruters criticized the governor for seemingly punishing ordinary Floridians seeking improved water quality, reduced traffic congestion, and better resources for disabled individuals seeking employment. Gruters asserted that such mean-spirited actions were shaping DeSantis’ reputation both locally and nationwide.
Among the approved Sarasota projects were operating funds of $33.4 million for the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, $19 million for the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, and $10.7 million for the school district’s workforce education programs.
DeSantis, prior to signing the state budget, expressed optimism about the state’s direction and its positive trajectory.