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EXCLUSIVE – Steve Hantler: Trump-Endorsed, Conservative FL Gubernatorial Candidate Ron DeSantis Battles Smear Campaign Launched by Entrenched Interests

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) (L) speaks to members of the media as Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) (R) listens during a press conference October 30, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Republican legislators held a news conference to introduce their joint legislation, the If You Like Your Health …
Alex Wong/Getty

Armed with endorsements from President Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, Conservative Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has vaulted to the top of the Florida governor’s race — and that has special interests squirming.

A group, the National Liberty Federation (NLF), funded by the sugar subsidy lobby, has launched a $1 million-plus smear campaign against DeSantis, who opposes corporate welfare, because the special interests prefer Adam Putnam, an establishment-insider and career politician unsurprisingly supportive of sugar industry interests.

From investigating FISA abuse to championing President Trump’s call for a border wall, DeSantis, an Iraq veteran, has established himself as one of the top conservatives in the country. He has also led by example by declining both the taxpayer-financed congressional pension and special health insurance subsidies for members of Congress (which he deems illegal and unfair to taxpayers). DeSantis is also the leading advocate in Congress for term limits, introduced the Drain the Swamp Act to codify Trump’s endorsed reforms, and led the effort to eliminate the infamous taxpayer-funded hush fund used by members of Congress to pay sexual harassment settlements.

It’s no wonder why entrenched interests are scared of him, as Putnam’s 20 year record is absolutely horrific: voting for the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street banks, backing both the Bush amnesty proposals as well as the 2013 Schumer-Obama Gang of 8 amnesty, opposing the use of the National Guard to secure the southern border, and voting with Nancy Pelosi for the absurd Obama “cash for clunkers” program.

Putnam maintained his hostility against Donald Trump even after he won the GOP nomination, calling him “abhorrent and dishonorable,” “vile and obscene,” and asserting that Trump is not “a level, steady, consistent guy who is well-read.”

With the contrast between DeSantis the swamp drainer and Putnam the insider so stark, the entrenched interests are playing the only card they can: shower their money on a fake news smear campaign designed to damage DeSantis. The result has been one of the most dishonest ad campaigns in recent memory. That it won’t work — the voters that powered Trump to victory in FL will smell this rat a mile away — doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be called out for the cynical campaign that it is.

The attacks are laughable to anyone who knows anything about Ron DeSantis. They include:

  • Fake News: food stamps for illegals. Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review has shredded the false claim that opposing the massive, $1 trillion pork-laden farm bill somehow constitutes a vote in favor of giving food stamps to illegals. While containing no benefit changes for illegals, the bill did codify the disastrous Obama food stamp regime. Every conservative group, including Heritage Action for America, key voted “no” on the farm bill and almost every conservative member of the House — such as Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan — opposed the measure. The claim against DeSantis was so obviously false that several radio stations pulled the ad off the air.
  • Fake News: not supporting President Trump. As absurd as it may sound to suggest that a candidate supported by President Trump does not support the President, it’s a claim being made. This is so obviously false that Fox News’ Laura Ingraham highlighted the ad in a segment with Rep. DeSantis. Laura scoffed at the ad and noted DeSantis has been a strong supporter of the President’s agenda.
  • Fake News: “colluding” with George Soros. In what must be an attempt to determine how gullible voters are, the NLF is running web and social media ads trying to link DeSantis to George Soros. No basis is given for this, as there is none. In fact, DeSantis has been a frequent target of Soros-funded groups such as American Bridge.

When it comes to the National Liberty Federation, buyer beware. This is a front group for entrenched interests seeking to block a Trump-endorsed, conservative candidate. The smear campaign against DeSantis is a desperate attempt by these special interests to keep their place at the taxpayer trough. Florida voters will see through the National Liberty Foundation’s dishonest ad campaign.

Steven Hantler is a retired auto industry executive and writer at Breitbart.

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