BREAKING: Campaign Legal Center Files FEC Complaint Against Ron DeSantis and State PAC for Violating “Soft Money” Ban


The complaint alleges that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has violated federal campaign finance laws by directing or transferring over $80 million from his state PAC, “Friends of Ron DeSantis,” to the super PAC Never Back Down.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging that both DeSantis and his state PAC violated laws prohibiting the use of soft money — i.e., money that is not subject to federal limits and reporting requirements — in federal elections by transferring over $80 million to a federal super PAC, Never Back Down.

Friends of Ron DeSantis, a state PAC based in Florida that DeSantis established in 2018, and used to raise over $225 million through May 2023, has reportedly directed or transferred over $80 million to Never Back Down, a federal super PAC reportedly organized to serve as the primary spending vehicle in support of the Florida governor’s presidential campaign. Never Back Down has already spent over $944,000 to promote his presidential candidacy.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) has, for over 20 years, prohibited federal candidates like DeSantis from spending “soft money” in connection with a federal election because such funds are not subject to federal campaign finance laws that prevent corruption and require transparency in our elections.

“Soft money undermines federal campaign finance laws because it is, by definition, money raised and spent outside the scope of those laws,” said Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform at Campaign Legal Center. “We’re talking about funds from billionaires and corporate special interests who could exert massive influence over the candidate they are financing. Laws banning these funds from being used to seek federal office are there for a reason – to prevent corruption, promote transparency, and ensure that wealthy special interests can’t rig the system even further in their favor.”

As the complaint explains, DeSantis became a candidate well before his public announcement on May 24, 2023, and was therefore bound by the FECA provisions prohibiting candidates and the entities they establish, finance, maintain, or control from spending soft money in connection with federal elections. As a result, Friends of Ron DeSantis — recently renamed “Empower Parents PAC” as part of a clear effort to distance the group from DeSantis — brazenly violated the law when it transferred this colossal sum to a federal super PAC.

The FEC is responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws and should investigate whether Governor DeSantis and the Friends of Ron DeSantis state PAC violated the law by making this transfer.