By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Before California Gov. Gavin Newsom attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a campaign ad, his in-laws donated money to Gov. DeSantis’ campaign through a trust they control, campaign finance records show.
Both governors are running for their second term and are favored to win re-election. Both have been identified by political pundits as a potential presidential matchup, especially after Gov. Newsom launched his first campaign ad for re-election attacking Gov. DeSantis instead of his Republican opponent in California.
California first lady Jennifer Siebel’s parents, Kenneth F. Siebel Jr. and Judith A. Siebel, run the Siebel Family Revocable Trust, which donated $5,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC. The donation was made on April 6, 2022, according to campaign records published by Transparency USA.
Neither the trust nor Gov. Newsom’s campaign immediately responded to requests for comment.
The donation was made months before Gov. DeSantis’ Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida, won the Democratic primary Aug. 23.
After Rep. Crist won, Gov. Newsom tweeted, “Time to make Ron DeSantis a one-term governor. I’m pledging $100k right now to Charlie Crist. Who will join me in helping Charlie become the next Governor of Florida?”
After his win, Rep. Crist said at a news conference, “Those who support the governor (DeSantis) should stay with him and vote for him and I don’t want your vote. If you have that hate in your heart, keep it there. I want the vote of the people of Florida who care about our state: good Democrats, good independents, good Republicans. Unify with this ticket. Those who are haters: You’re gonna go off in your own world.”
In Gov. Newsom’s ad attacking Gov. DeSantis, he told Floridians, “Freedom is under attack in your state.” He claimed Republicans were banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms and criminalizing doctors. He also urged Floridians to “join the fight or join us in California.”
Gov. DeSantis’ office responded by saying the ad was a “desperate attempt to win back the California refugees who fled the hellhole he (Gov. Newsom) created in his state to come to Florida.”
Gov. DeSantis also said Gov. Newsom treated Californians like peasants during nearly two years of lockdowns. A political PAC unaffiliated with Gov. DeSantis also launched campaign ads in California mocking Gov. Newsom. One ad depicts Gov. Newsom saying with a voiceover, “I urge you to join us in California where we’ll take the money you earn and give it to people who don’t work.”
At a media event last week, Gov. DeSantis said, “Freedom is on the line this November – and our bold agenda for parental rights in education, safe communities, a vibrant economy and a protected environment is vital to keeping the state of Florida free.
“Our state is worth fighting for, and I am calling on all Floridians to put on the full armor of God as we will fight tooth and nail to protect Florida from the destructive agenda of Joe Biden and his No. 1 ally in Florida, Charlie Crist.”
According to RealClear Politics, Gov. Newsom is expected to win reelection by a 24-point margin; Gov. DeSantis, by an 8-point margin.
Gov. DeSantis currently has more than $140 million in total donations compared to Rep. Crist’s $11.7 million, according to Transparency USA.