|46th Governor of Florida|
January 8, 2019
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 6th district
January 3, 2013 - September 10, 2018
Ronald Dion DeSantis
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Casey Black (m. 2010)
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
Harvard University (JD)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||2004-2010 (Active)|
|Unit||Judge Advocate General's Corps|
|Awards|| Bronze Star|
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Ronald Dion DeSantis (born September 14, 1978) is an American attorney, Naval officer, and politician serving as the 46th governor of Florida since 2019. A Republican, he represented Florida's 6th congressional district in Congress from 2013 to 2018. After graduating from Yale University and Harvard Law School, DeSantis served as an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy (JAG).
DeSantis was a candidate in Florida's 2016 U.S. Senate election, but withdrew when incumbent senator Marco Rubio announced that he would seek reelection. DeSantis then opted to run for re-election to his U.S. House seat and was re-elected in November 2016. An ally of President Donald Trump, DeSantis made frequent criticisms of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, urging Trump to shut down or significantly limit the investigation.
On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary for governor of Florida. On September 10, 2018, DeSantis resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. DeSantis was officially certified as the winner on November 20, 2018, following a machine recount, defeating Democratic nominee and mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum. At age 41, DeSantis is the youngest incumbent governor of a U.S. state.
Following his inauguration, DeSantis has sought an increase in bipartisanship within the state legislature and implemented various reforms in regards to the environment, drug policy, and the state budget; he allocated $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration, urged the legislature to support broader use of medical cannabis, supported budget increases and appointed several Democrats to positions in his cabinet, moves that surprised both parties and drew praise from lawmakers and the media, with DeSantis telling the Tampa Bay Times that he was "basically doing what I said I was going to do." A February 2019 Public Opinion Research poll indicated a 64% approval, and a 24% disapproval rating for DeSantis, while a March 2019 Quinnipiac University poll found 59% and 17%, respectively, making him one of the most popular governors in the country.
Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Karen (Rogers) and Ronald DeSantis. His family moved to Orlando, Florida before relocating to Dunedin, Florida when he was 6 years old. In 1991 he was a member of the Little League team from Dunedin National that went on from the regular season to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
After graduating in 1997 from Dunedin High School in Dunedin, Florida, DeSantis attended Yale University, graduating with a B.A. in history in 2001. While at Yale, he was also captain of the varsity baseball team, and a brother of Delta Kappa Epsilon, joining the same chapter that once counted George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as members. After Yale, he then joined Darlington School serving on the Upper School history department. He then attended Harvard Law School, receiving his J.D. in 2005.
DeSantis received his Reserve Naval officer's commission and assignment to Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) in 2004 at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Dallas, Texas, while still a student at Harvard Law School. He completed U.S. Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders to the Trial Service Office Command South East at the Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a JAG prosecutor. In 2006, he was promoted from lieutenant junior grade (LTJG) to lieutenant (LT). He worked for the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility.
In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq with the troop surge as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.
He returned to the United States in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. He was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to serve as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the US Navy Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
He authored a book entitled Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama, which was published in 2011. His writing has appeared in National Review, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, Human Events, and American Thinker.
DeSantis won the six-candidate Republican primary with 39% of the vote, with the runner-up, state representative Fred Costello, obtaining 23%. In the November general election, DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Heather Beaven by 57-43%, with majorities in all four counties.
On January 29, 2014, DeSantis introduced into the House the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 3973; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Justice to report to the United States Congress whenever any federal agency refrains from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason. In the report, the government would have to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law.
DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda. ... The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why."
On August 24, 2017, DeSantis added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would end funding for the Mueller investigation "or for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015" (the month Trump announced he was running for president) 180 days after passage of the bill.
The amendment would counter a bipartisan bill authored by two Democratic and two Republican U.S. senators that was meant to limit the president's power to fire the special counsel. The DeSantis amendment would potentially cut off funding for the investigation by November 2017. It was also a response to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's statement that the DOJ, "doesn't conduct fishing expeditions." DeSantis stated that the May 17, 2017 DOJ order "didn't identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition."
On May 6, 2015, DeSantis announced that he was running for the United States Senate seat held by Marco Rubio, who initially did not file to run for re-election due to his bid for the U.S. presidency. He was endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. DeSantis withdrew and instead campaigned for reelection to the House once Rubio entered the Senate race after ending his presidential bid.
In January 2018, DeSantis announced his candidacy for governor of Florida to succeed term-limited Republican incumbent Rick Scott. President Donald Trump stated in December 2017 that he would support DeSantis should he run for governor. During the Republican primary, DeSantis emphasized his support for Trump by running an ad where DeSantis taught his children how to "build the wall" and say "Make America Great Again" and by dressing one of his children in a tiny red "Make America Great Again" jumper. Asked if he could name an issue where he disagreed with Trump, DeSantis did not identify a single issue. On July 30, 2018, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times wrote that the support DeSantis's primary campaign had received demonstrated both Trump's kingmaking capacity in a Republican-trending state but also a "broader nationalization of conservative politics" wherein "a willingness to hurl rhetorical lightning bolts at the left, the media and special counsel Robert S. Mueller can override local credentials, local endorsements and preparedness for a state-based job."
In September 2018, DeSantis announced state representative Jeanette Núñez as his running mate. He resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 10, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial candidacy. That same month, DeSantis was criticized for not having a fully formed policy platform for his gubernatorial campaign. He cancelled a planned interview with the Tampa Bay Times to have additional time to put together a platform before an in-depth policy interview.
DeSantis's gubernatorial platform includes support for legislation that would allow persons with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms openly. He also supports a law mandating the use of E-Verify by businesses and a state-level ban on sanctuary city protections for undocumented immigrants. DeSantis has promised to stop the spread of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. DeSantis has also expressed support for a state constitutional amendment to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases. He opposes allowing able-bodied, childless adults to receive Medicaid. DeSantis has stated that he would implement a medical marijuana program, but opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.
On August 29, 2018, DeSantis came under criticism for comments that were allegedly racist, saying, "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That's not going to be good for Florida." DeSantis was accused of using the verb "monkey" as a racist dog whistle; his opponent, Gillum, was African-American. Amid the controversy over DeSantis' comments, The Washington Post and the Naples Daily News reported that DeSantis had on four occasions appeared at racially-charged conferences at the David Horowitz Freedom Center that featured various right-wing provocateurs as speakers. DeSantis stated that his comment had "zero to do with race."
Initial election-night results had DeSantis winning by nearly 100,000 votes, and Gillum conceded. Gillum took back his concession as late-counted ballots brought the race within less than 34,000 votes, a margin of 0.4%. The close margin required an automatic machine recount of the ballots.
A machine recount in three statewide contests (governor, US senator, and agriculture commissioner) began with a deadline of November 15, 2018. Although three counties missed the deadline, it was not extended. DeSantis was confirmed as the winner and Gillum conceded on November 17.
DeSantis prefiled the oath of office with the Florida secretary of state and became governor at midnight, January 8, 2019. The official swearing in ceremony was held at noon that day. On January 11, 2019, DeSantis posthumously pardoned the Groveland Four, four black men falsely convicted of rape in 1949. That same day, DeSantis officially suspended Broward County sheriff Scott Israel for his response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
In his first two weeks in office, DeSantis appointed Barbara Lagoa, Robert J. Luck and Carlos G. Muñiz to fill the three vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, shifting the court from having a liberal to a conservative majority. He replaced the entire South Florida Water Management District board. He signed $2.5 billion executive order for water quality and Everglades restoration work. He created a chief science officer position and created an office of coastal protection and resilience. In January 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order calling for the end of Common Core in Florida. He also promoted deregulation.
DeSantis encouraged Florida sheriffs to cooperate with the federal government on immigration-related issues. In June 2019, DeSantis signed an anti-sanctuary city bill that requires law enforcement "to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers for undocumented immigrants who are arrested or convicted" of crimes. Florida became the 12th state to ban sanctuary cities.
In June 2019, DeSantis signed a measure that would make it harder to launch successful ballot initiatives. He did this at the same that petition-gathering for ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana, increase the minimum wage and expand Medicaid were under way.
In June 2019, following on the heels of an overwhelmingly passed 2018 constitutional amendment referendum in favor of voting rights restoration for felons, DeSantis signed legislation that restricted such restoration only to those felons who had fully paid back all fees and fines to the courts.
DeSantis supports the implementation of a medical marijuana program in Florida, but opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana. He voted against the Veterans Equal Access Amendment that would give veterans access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence.
DeSantis agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., saying "This case does not concern the availability or legality of contraceptives, and individuals can obtain and use these as they see fit. The question is simply whether the government can force the owners of Hobby Lobby to pay for abortifacients in violation of their faith."
DeSantis has said that the debate in Washington, D.C., over how to reduce the deficit should shift emphasis from tax increases to curtailing spending and triggering economic growth. He supports a "no budget no pay" policy for Congress to encourage the passage of a budget. He believes the Federal Reserve System should be audited.
In the wake of the alleged IRS targeting controversy, DeSantis called for the resignation of Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen for having "failed the American people by frustrating Congress's attempts to ascertain the truth." He co-sponsored a bill to impeach Koskinen for violating the public's trust. In 2015, DeSantis was named "Taxpayer Superhero" by Citizens Against Government Waste, a conservative think-tank.
DeSantis supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require that regulations that have a significant economic impact be subject to a vote of Congress prior to taking effect.
DeSantis introduced the Let Seniors Work Act, which would repeal the Retirement Earnings Test and exempt senior citizens from the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax, and he co-sponsored a measure to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits.
DeSantis sponsored the Transportation Empowerment Act, which would transfer much of the responsibility for transportation projects to the individual states and sharply reduce the federal gas tax.
DeSantis has opposed legislation to require online retailers to collect and pay state sales tax.
He voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. DeSantis says the bill will bring a "dramatically lower tax rate" and "full expensing of capital investments." DeSantis also believes the act will bring more jobs to America.
In 2016, DeSantis introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would allow states to create their own accreditation systems. In an op-ed for the National Review, DeSantis said that his legislation would give students "access to federal loan money to put towards non-traditional educational opportunities, such as online learning courses, vocational schools, and apprenticeships in skilled trades."
In 2015, DeSantis introduced the Guantanamo Bay Recidivism Prevention Act, which would cut off foreign aid to countries that receive detainees if they show back up on the terrorism recidivism list.
Regarding the formal restart of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, DeSantis said "Raising the Cuban flag in the United States is a slap in the face to those who have experienced the brutality of the Castro regime."
DeSantis opposed the Iran nuclear deal framework, calling it "a bad deal that will significantly degrade our national security." DeSantis said "the Iran deal gives Ayatollah Khamenei exactly what he wants: billions of dollars in sanctions relief, validation of the Iranian nuclear program, and the ability to stymie inspections."
During a line of questioning, DeSantis told Secretary of State John Kerry that the executive branch had a legal obligation to provide Congress with the details behind any side deals made between world leaders and Iran. DeSantis accused President Barack Obama of giving better treatment of Cuba's Raul Castro and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei than of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 2013, DeSantis introduced the Palestinian Accountability Act, which would halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it formally recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and cuts off all ties with the militant group Hamas.
In 2016, DeSantis co-introduced the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, which will defend the right of Israeli producers to label products manufactured in the West Bank as "Israel", "Made in Israel", or "Product of Israel". DeSantis supported the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
As governor, in light of Airbnb's decision to no longer allow rentals of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, on January 15, 2019 DeSantis directed the Department of Management Services to no longer reimburse state employees and state contractors for travel expenses incurred with Airbnb; later that month he accepted the recommendation of the State Board of Administration to place Airbnb on Florida's "Scrutinized Companies List".
DeSantis opted not to receive his congressional pension, and he filed a measure that would eliminate pensions for members of Congress. After introducing the End Pensions in Congress Act, DeSantis said "The Founding Fathers envisioned elected officials as part of a servant class, yet Washington has evolved into a ruling class culture."
DeSantis opposes gun control. He received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. He is generally opposed to firearm regulation, saying, "Very rarely do firearms restrictions affect criminals. They really only affect law-abiding citizens."
Following the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, DeSantis expressed his support for hiring retired law enforcement officers and military veterans as armed guards for schools. He disagrees with legislation signed into law by Florida governor Rick Scott that banned bump stocks, added a mandatory three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and raised the legal age for purchases from 18 to 21. He has expressed support for measures to improve federal background checks for purchasing firearms and has said that there is a need to intervene with those who are exhibiting warning signs of committing violence instead of waiting until a crime has been committed.
In March 2017, DeSantis said that he wasn't ready to support the American Health Care Act, the House Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He did vote for the May 2017 Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
DeSantis was a critic of President Obama's immigration policies; he opposed Obama's deferred action programs (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and accused him of failing to enforce immigration laws. DeSantis opposes "sanctuary cities." He is a co-sponsor of the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, also known as Kate's Law, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter the United States after being removed. In 2017, Desantis spoke at ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim advocacy group.
After the November 2015 Paris attacks, DeSantis "called for urgent recognition that Islamic extremism is to blame for the Paris attacks and should be seen as an enemy for America." DeSantis has said "The enemy is an ideology rooted in militant Islam" and has said that ISIS must be stopped and its members kept away from America. Regarding U.S. policy toward refugees, DeSantis said "the prudent policy is to err on the side of protecting the American people".
DeSantis has a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign based on his record of voting on LGBT-related issues and legislation. In 2018, he told the Sun Sentinel he "doesn't want any discrimination in Florida, I want people to be able to live their life, whether you're gay or whether you're religious."
In January 2019, less than a week after taking office, DeSantis issued a nondiscrimination order for state employees reiterating former Governor Scott's order; while the order included race, age, sex, color, religion, national origin, marital status and disability, it included no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. Equality Florida strongly criticized DeSantis, with the organization's senior political director stating that Equality Florida was "deeply disappointed to see that LGBTQ employees and contractors have been left out of the governor's executive order." DeSantis' predecessor had pledged to sign an LGBT-inclusive order as governor, but ultimately did not follow through on the grounds that proper federal protections existed.
In June 2019, DeSantis' office issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the June 12, 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting at the Pulse gay bar and nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and 50 others were injured by Omar Mateen. The proclamation did not include any reference to the LGBT community, sparking severe criticism and accusations that the governor intentionally omitted the category from the message; Democratic state representatives Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is openly gay, lambasted the governor, while gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in a school shooting in Broward County a year earlier, questioned if the omission was predetermined. DeSantis reissued the proclamation with revisions including mentions of the LGBT community, and a spokesperson stated that the omission was due to an error on the part of DeSantis' staff. Former Governor Scott included an LGBT reference in a prior Pulse memorial message.
DeSantis proposed an amendment that would halt funding for Mueller's 2017 Special Counsel investigation probe six months after the amendment's passage. In addition, this provision would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign. In December 2017, DeSantis asserted that if there was any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, it would already have been leaked.
In January 2018, while on the House Intelligence Committee, DeSantis voted on party lines to release a classified memo authored by Republicans on the committee which purported to show that the FBI abused its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation. DeSantis voted not to release a memo authored by Democrats on the committee which accused the Republicans on the committee of playing politics with national security. Democrats described the Republican-authored memo as grossly distorted and intended to discredit the Mueller Special Counsel investigation, and said that the Republicans on the committee had begun an investigation into the FBI and DOJ.
In April 2018, DeSantis called on FBI director Christopher Wray to criminally investigate a number of officials involved in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including former FBI director James Comey, former acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI counsel Lisa Page. DeSantis also called for investigations of a number of former Obama officials, including Loretta Lynch and Hillary Clinton.
DeSantis has sharply criticized the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014, in which veteran deaths were linked to wait times. He co-sponsored the VA Accountability Act, which aims to increase accountability by providing for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct. He is a member of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.
DeSantis called for Broward County sheriff Scott Israel to resign after the Parkland school shooting committed by Nikolas Cruz. Israel was accused by a large number of people of running his department poorly and not properly handling or responding to the shooting. DeSantis stated that had he been governor when the shooting occurred he would have removed Israel from his position. On January 11, shortly after taking office as governor, DeSantis suspended Israel from his duties. Israel declared that he intends to contest his suspension.
DeSantis is a Roman Catholic and of Italian descent. In 2010, he married Casey Black. They lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, near St. Augustine until Ponte Vedra Beach was drawn into the neighboring 4th district. DeSantis and his wife then moved to Palm Coast, north of Daytona Beach. DeSantis and his wife have a daughter and a son.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a top Trump ally seeking to undermine the ongoing Russia probes
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Florida
| Governor of Florida
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
| Order of Precedence of the United States
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Governor of Michigan
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Governor of Texas