Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried accuses Ron DeSantis of extorting campaign donations out of university trustees

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2021 at 12:27 PM

  • Screenshot via Nikki Fried/Twitter

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried accuse d says that current Governor Ron DeSantis squeezed campaign donations out of sitting state university trustees, threatening their position unless they donated $100,000 to his re-election campaign.

The serious allegation came in a night of complaints against the governor from people affiliated with the state university system. At a town hall on education organized by the United Faculty of Florida union, speakers railed against reports that the state has stifled testimony from professors in ongoing cases and pressured researchers to destroy COVID-19 data.

Gubernatorial candidate Fried took things a step further, accusing the current governor of engaging in blackmail.

“I don’t know if this is as public. You all should know,” Fried said, per Florida Politics. “Our current boards of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000. And if they didn’t give him the campaign contribution, they were not reappointed to the boards. That is what we are dealing with here in the state of Florida with this Governor.”

While governor appointees are frequently sourced from among their donors, the heavy-handed approach Fried is accusing DeSantis of taking rises beyond an exchange of political favors.

DeSantis' spokesperson Christina Pushaw called Fried's allegation a "baseless conspiracy theory" in a statement to Orlando Weekly. "The names of trustees appointed by Governor DeSantis are all publicly available. Likewise, all campaign donations are publicly reported and searchable by name. Any journalist could do basic research to confirm that there are members of the UF board of trustees who have not made any donations," she said. "This fact alone proves that Fried is not telling the truth, and to be honest, it should not have to be confirmed by our office when this is all easily available information that anyone with an internet connection can see for themselves."

Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation