TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ethics complaints filed against two of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former executive staff members, which were filed by Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried, have been dismissed.
The Florida Commission on Ethics dismissed Fried’s complaints against former Chief of Staff James Uthmeier and former Legislative Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos.
Fried filed three ethics complaints against DeSantis’s executive staff with both the Florida Commission on Ethics and the Elections Commission in June.
The filed complaints alleged that DeSantis and officials from his executive office, including Uthmeier, Kopelousos, and former Director of Policy and Budget Chris Spencer, engaged in “unethical and illegal solicitations of campaign contributions from Florida lobbyists.”
The ethics complaint filed against Spencer was dismissed in August for “lack of legal sufficiency.”
The complaints also accused the officials of unethically and illegally seeking endorsements for the governor’s presidential campaign during discussions with lawmakers regarding the state budget.
“The Commission found no probable cause to believe Mr. Uthmeier misused his position to have employees and officials in the administration solicit campaign funds for Governor DeSantis’s Presidential campaign,” the ethics commission stated in a press release.
“No probable cause was found to believe Stephanie Kopelousos, former Legislative Affairs Director in the Executive Office of the Governor, misused her position to solicit endorsements for Governor DeSantis’s Presidential Campaign,” the ethics commission also said.
Fried previously said the allegations “represent a gross violation of state laws and ethics [.…] and we could not in good conscience ignore them.”
“If true, they are yet another example of Ron [DeSantis] abusing his public office for personal gain. Public officials are employed to serve the people of Florida, not line Ron’s pockets,” Fried said.
In June, the governor’s press secretary Jeremy Redfern said DeSantis’ team is “adding this to the list of politically motivated attacks.”