DeSantis committees pay fake news site to help raise funds
In messages to his supporters, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is quick to call the “fake news media” enemies.
But when it comes to raising money for his re-election bid, the Republican governor’s campaign and an associated political committee have enlisted the help of a satirical website with the slogan “Fake news you can trust”.
The governor’s campaign committee along with the associated Friends of Ron DeSantis political action committee paid conservative-leaning satire website The Babylon Bee a combined $15,000 last year for fundraising-related services online, according to state campaign finance records.
It is not uncommon for political committees to pay advocacy groups, other political campaigns or partisan news sites to access their list of former donors or subscribers in order to solicit them for contributions.
“They want to reach people who may not know about your campaign, but who could be persuaded to find out more,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics. .
The practice is generally referred to as leasing a list and parent companies of conservative news sites Daily Wire, co-founded by Ben Shapiro, and Daily Caller, co-founded by Tucker Carlson, as well as liberal news site Daily Kos. , founded by Markos Moulitsas, were among the top 100 recipients of campaign money tied to list rentals during the last political cycle, according to Open Secrets.
DeSantis Committees have paid more than $38,000 to Daily Wire, LLC and $7,500 to Blaze Media, LLC, associated with Glenn Beck, this year and last year.
But the two DeSantis committees are the only political committees in Florida to have paid Jupiter-based The Babylon Bee for fundraising assistance, according to Florida campaign finance records. Expenses were coded as “LIST RENTAL” and “EMAIL SERVICES”. Nor has any federal political committee paid for the website, according to federal campaign finance data.
The DeSantis campaign declined to comment, and The Babylon Bee did not respond to questions about the expenses.
The website, which bills itself as “Your trusted source for Christian news satire”, has been described as a conservative take on the comedy website The Onion. It was created in 2016 by Adam Ford but sold in 2018 to Seth Dillon, who incorporated the company in Florida. He writes regularly about DeSantis.
Recent Babylon Bee stories include:
▪ “Governor DeSantis signs statement that ‘The Last Jedi’ has been sucked in,” following the Governor’s recent feud with Star Wars franchise owner Disney.
▪ ‘Ron DeSantis inspires kids to do what they want’ after DeSantis made headlines for asking high school students to take off their masks during a press conference he gave with college students University of South Florida.
The website recently caught his attention when he was suspended from Twitter after he tweeted a story he posted naming Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health for the US Department of Health and Human Services, who is a woman. transgender, her “man of the year”. .”
Open Secrets’ Krumholz said she couldn’t think of any other case where a committee turned to a satire website for help soliciting donations, but thought the strategy was novel. .
“A satirical site looks like a creative way to reach people who might be reachable and not necessarily in your choir,” she said.