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DeSantis Campaign Accepts Funds From Donor Who Tweeted Racial Slur Against Obama

Ron DeSantis' campaign had previously said it would not take any money from Steven Alembik.

Steven Alembik, a Republican donor from Boca Raton, Florida, donated $5,000 to Ron DeSantis' reelection campaign for governor last month, after DeSantis' previous campaign for the position, in 2018, had said it would not take any more money from him over his offensive racist comments.

Alembik had in previous years donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis, but had been disavowed by DeSantis' first gubernatorial campaign in 2018 after he tweeted a racist slur against former President Barack Obama, writing out, "F--K THE MUSLIM N----R." In response, DeSantis campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson said in a statement, "We adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric." Lawson said that the campaign would not accept any more money from Alembik.

Alembik at first denied that he'd posted the slur, but then switched his story and told Politico, "So somebody like Chris Rock can get up onstage and use the word and there's no problem? But some white guy says it and he's a racist? Really?... I grew up in New York in the ’50s. We were the kikes. They were the n------. They were the goyim. And those were the spics." He said, "I'm an emotional human being. Do I have a filter on what I say? In public, yes. Would I use that word in public? No. This is Twitter."

Alembik was neither the first nor the last person associated with DeSantis to exhibit racist behavior. DeSantis himself said on Aug. 29, 2018, about his Democratic opponent for governor, Andrew Gillum, who is African American, that he would "monkey ... up" the economy.

Subsequently, Florida residents received robocalls from a person claiming to be Gillum, the first Black nominee for Florida governor from a major party, and speaking in what the New York Times called "the exaggerated accent of a minstrel performer" with jungle sounds in the background. The calls ended with a message saying they were paid for by the Road to Power, which the Anti-Defamation League says is an Idaho-based white supremacist and anti-Semitic broadcaster.

In February 2018, Alembik hosted a gala event for a conservative group called the Truth About Israel at Donald Trump's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. The resort had recently lost 15 bookings for events following Trump's remarks about there being "people that were very fine people, on both sides" at the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017. DeSantis spoke at the event at Mar-a-Lago, as did fellow Republican Rep. Brian Mast.

In 2017, DeSantis attended a "Restoration Weekend" gathering organized by David Horowitz, an anti-Muslim activist and founder of the Islamophobic magazine FrontPage and the so-called David Horowitz Freedom Center. Other attendees that year included right-wing figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Charlie Kirk, and Devin Nunes.

In April, DeSantis signed the Stop W.O.K.E Act to eradicate so-called critical race theory and "woke" ideology from Florida schools and workplaces. Critics see it as a measure to outlaw the discussion of racial inequality in general.

DeSantis' office did not respond to inquiries from the American Independent Foundation regarding the donation by Alembik.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

DeSantis Vows To Eliminate Gun Permits And Background Checks In Florida

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed on April 29 that the state would "one day" have a permitless weapons carry law. "I'm pretty sure we can get it signed into law," he said during a news conference in the town of Williston, near Gainesville.

According to the Florida Phoenix, DeSantis said, "The legislature will get it done. I can't tell you if it's going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you that before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill."

Permitless carry laws allow individuals to carry loaded, concealed handguns without a permit, background check, or firearms training. The Center for American Progress says in an FAQ on its website:

These laws reflect a relatively recent trend in which states are removing or weakening permitting standards for concealed carry.

On April 12, 2022, Georgia became the 25th state to enact legislation eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry and the 21st state to do so in the past seven years. Similar bills are pending in at least five state legislatures.

This movement toward permitless carry represents a massive step back for public safety and responsible gun ownership.

Under current Florida law, gun owners must be licensed, and the process of obtaining a permit includes required written proof of competency with a firearm.

In a report published in September 2021, the Center for American Progress noted that in Wisconsin, which in 2011 enacted a law allowing the concealed carrying of weapons after a permit to do so has been obtained, "an analysis of publicly available data from local agencies, the FBI, and other national databases suggests that the CCW law has led to negative consequences for safety in the state.

Three categories of violent gun-related crime have increased since its implementation: gun homicides, aggravated assaults that involve a gun, and gun-related homicides and assaults against law enforcement officers." The report concludes that "the overwhelming evidence out of Wisconsin is an important case study for why CCW laws are detrimental to public safety and why continued action on gun violence prevention remains critical."

CAP also found that "when Arizona repealed its concealed carry requirement in 2010, there was an 11 percent increase in gun injuries and deaths and a 24 percent increase in the probability that an individual involved in a violent crime would be fatally shot."

DeSantis, who is running for reelection, is pursuing a far-right political agenda that includes a host of bills affecting civil rights, including voter suppression and LGBTQ+ issues. In an op-ed published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel in March, historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat referred to the state as a "laboratory for autocracy," echoing the title of author and politician David Pepper's book "Laboratories of Autocracy," in which he argues that anti-democratic measures that threaten the U.S. system of government originate more and more in statehouses, not in the Congress.

Under Florida law, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for issuing concealed carry licenses. Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said in a statement on her website about DeSantis' vow to eliminate gun licenses:

This is absurd political pandering from the Governor of a state that has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history and in a nation where we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world. It’s an insult the memories and families of every victim of gun violence. We should be passing laws to prevent gun violence and working to fix our state’s affordable housing crisis, not creating chaos to score political points.

Fried is one of six Democratic candidates hoping to win their party's nomination for governor in the November midterms. DeSantis faces challenger Joseph Mercadante in the Republican primary.

Fred Guttenberg voiced outrage at DeSantis' announcement over the weekend:

I have questions for @GovRonDeSantis from his announcement yesterday. With permitless open carry, how am I supposed to know who intends to kill. For example, how can I differentiate the intent of Ron DeSantis as opposed to a murderer like my daughter's killer? How will I know who intends to use the guns to kill verse those like you who only want to politicize that possibility? There is no way to know.

Guttenberg's daughter Jaime was shot to death on February 14, 2018, when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding a further 17, in the deadliest high school shooting in the United States to date.

Florida ranks second in the number of mass shootings in any state since 1982, behind only California.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Civil War Erupts In Michigan GOP Over Trump

Michigan's GOP primaries have become a test of who is most 'cravenly loyal' to Donald Trump, one conservative strategist said.

The Michigan Republican Party is seeing a purge of state GOP officials and members who are perceived as not sufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" against him. Trump lost Michigan to President Joe Biden by a margin of 154,000 votes.

As the Michigan GOP arranges itself ahead of the primaries this August, it is facing a stark identity crisis. Having undergone a bruising season of conventions, the party now appears to be splitting along the lines of a MAGA faction and a more traditional Republican faction. Similar fissures have been cracking wide open in Republican primary races across the country ahead of this fall's midterm elections.

Last November, Trump called for a wholesale replacement of the Michigan legislature, which he considered disloyal to him. That call to action has resulted in an explosion of Republican primary challengers in the Midwestern battleground state. In 2018, just 20 percent of Republican lawmakers in Michigan faced challenges from within their own party. This year that number has tripled, to 67 percent.

Two of Trump's most fervent backers in the Michigan Republican Party are Meshawn and Matt Maddock. Meshawn Maddock is a former stay-at-home mom who became the co-chair of the Michigan GOP after the 2020 election. Matt Maddock is a Republican state representative and a bail bondsman. Both attended the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection.


Meshawn Maddock, for her part, arranged transportation for Michigan Republicans to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally where Trump supporters called for Congress to overturn Biden's victory. The Maddocks also went to the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to present a slate of false Republican electors who had signed fake affidavits in an attempt to reverse Michigan's election results.

The couple has been instrumental in advising Trump on which candidates to endorse in the state's Republican primary contests, most of whom are election deniers. Most prominent among these are Matt DePerno, a lawyer from Kalamazoo, and Kristina Karamo, a community college instructor. Neither DePerno nor Karamo has experience in public office, and both are fervent promoters of the "rigged election" conspiracy.

Earlier this week, Matt Maddock was ousted from the House Republican caucus — after which he claimed to have his "best fundraising day." House speaker Jason Wentworth has not yet given a reason, but others in the party claimed that he broke the caucus rules regarding circulating sensitive information. The Detroit Free Press reported that he leaked information on incumbents to would-be challengers in a violation of protocol.

GOP strategist Jaime Roe told the Detroit Free Press, "You can pick sides in primaries for open seats, you can compete for leadership posts, but you don't recruit opponents against caucus members."

The rift in the party is now reflected in its fundraising. As reported yesterday in the New York Times, major party donors have been redirecting their funds from the increasingly Trump-dominated party to individual candidates. Jeffrey Cappo, an auto dealership magnate, who has in the past donated generously to the party, did not appear on the donor rolls in 2021. "Our political state," he told the Times, "is more dysfunctional than it has ever been."

Tony Daunt, a longtime conservative strategist, quit the state party committee altogether, telling the Times that the primaries have become a test of who is most "cravenly loyal" to Trump, who he called a "deranged narcissist" and an "undisciplined loser."

Daunt has close ties to Dick and Betsy DeVos, who served as secretary of education under Trump. The DeVoses are longtime Michigan Republican donors through their Freedom Fund political action committee. Betsy DeVos resigned her post after the deadly riots on January 6, 2021, and the Times reported that some inside the DeVos network are "frustrated" with the direction the party is taking.

State Republican party finances have reportedly dwindled recently to the extent that Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser is bankrolling the party with his personal wealth.

Michigan Republicans are no longer hiding their frustration with the intra-party fighting.

"We need to work together to beat the Democrats, but grassroots loyalty to Trump has been ignored in the last two years," Eric Castiglia, of the Macomb County Republican Party, told the American Independent Foundation.

He added: "The battle's just started. The war is yet to come."

Printed with permission from AmericanIndependent.