Ron DeSantis, Florida’s 46th elected governor, has been no stranger to controversy during his political career, which began at the very beginning of 2019. In true fashion with what many people already assume about Conservatives, DeSantis has been at the forefront of many politically and racially charged happenings throughout the years. From claims that he originally moderated a Facebook group promoting hate speech, toopenly making inflammatory insults to his peers, DeSantis has made a name for himself in infamy.

Usually, when a politician finds themselves amid a controversial matter, it can be conveniently explained away as an accident or a lapse in judgement resulting in insensitive behavior. However, in the case of DeSantis, the top 10 controversial moments that we’ll briefly be examining down below are very much intentional.

1.     Martha’s Vineyard

1.Migrants gathered outside of St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Martha’s Vineyard (Ray Ewing/Associated Press)

One of the most recent and blatant controversial displays that DeSantis has found himself in, involved sending two planes of unauthorized migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which is an island of Massachusetts. In June, DeSantis signed a $12 million budget deal to allocate funds to a program designed to transport illegal citizens out of Florida.

However, unbeknownst to the public, and apparently the Texas state governor, Greg Abbott, DeSantis used those funds three months later to gather around 50 illegal citizens and send them on a flight from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard. The migrants were promised housing and jobs. Sadly, this turned out to be a cruel and possibly criminal hoax by the Florida governor.

2.     “Monkey This Up”

2.Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum (Left) and Republican nominee Ron DeSantis (Right) (Lissette Rodriguez/ABC News)

During the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, DeSantis went live on an interview with Fox News. As we all are familiar with, what would politics be without some campaign smearing from the opposite party? While recording this interview, DeSantis attacked his democratic counterpart’s candidacy by presenting him as a far-left socialist, and accusing him of wanting to turn Florida into something resembling Venezuela.

If this wasn’t bad enough, DeSantis doubled down on his provocative comments by encouraging voters not to “monkey this up,” referring to voters securing Gillum’s candidacy by allowing him to win the state election. Using this phrasing to describe Gillum’s potential victory as the first African-American governor of Florida, while also being aware of how African-American communities could’ve reacted to that phrasing, certainly makes this one of the more inflammatory incidents.

3.     Facebook Hate Group

3.The Tea Party Facebook group, which Ron DeSantis was accused of being a moderator of in 2018 (Tim Elfrink/Miami New Times).

In 2018, a spokesperson for DeSantis’ campaign confirmed his involvement in a Facebook group known as “Tea Party.” However, this spokesperson also alleged that DeSantis was added to the group without his knowledge or consent, and that he immediately removed himself from the group upon learning about it. Fortunately for his campaign trail, upon further investigation, it seemed as though DeSantis truly had no involvement in the group, since there had been no posts or comments made or interacted with by his account.

The Tea Party group acted as a content dump for conspiracy theories, memes, and other hateful, bigoted, and insensitive racial content. While DeSantis may not have had an involvement in the Tea Party group, his track record for displaying the same behaviors apparent in those who were active in that group, still paint an unsavory image of what type of person he may be.

4.     Covid-19 Restrictions

4.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighting Covid-19 survival rates by age group (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times)

Towards the end of 2020, DeSantis implemented an executive order that would lift covid-19 restrictions on businesses statewide.This executive order would also stop people from being fined for not following the mask mandates.The justification for this is that the governor saw no signs of the covid-19 virus causing a resurgence or second wave of outbreaks. DeSantis highlighted Florida’s economic activity towards the end of the year as an indicator of how harmless the situation was.

It should be noted that during this time, there were only talks of a vaccine being made, but nothing tangible to provide people with a form of inoculation. Choosing to lift the statewide restrictions and have businesses operate at full capacity during the crisis, potentially endangered the lives of many.

5.     “This girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.”

5.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responds on Twitter to the article revealing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ comments (Twitter)

During a campaign event, DeSantis addressed remarks made by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democratic congressional nominee at the time, about her comments regarding Israeli settlement expansions into Palestinian territories.Due to the complexity of the Middle-Eastern conflicts, many figures across the political spectrum have differing views on what lands belong to Israel and Palestine respectively.

However, DeSantis accused Ocasio-Cortez of parroting left-wing talking points and mockingly accused her of being the Democratic party’s savior. In his campaign speech, DeSantis specifically states, “You look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe. It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance.” While these comments did elicit laughs from his audience, DeSantis was surprised that he came under fire for his statements, as indicated in a following interview on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night Show.

6.     Black Lives Matter Protests

6.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing his bill against unlawful demonstrations (Steven Lemongello and Gray Rohrer/Orlando Sentinel)

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests from the summer of 2020, and the following demonstrations that had been occurring leading up to theDerek Chauvin trial verdict in 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis attempted to pass a bill that would criminalize any behavior that could involve rioting.While the billwasn’t claimed to be targeted towards any specific group of individuals, many people felt that the legislation was racially motivated. Considering that most protests around the country at the time involved BLM-associated groups, the suspicion wasn’t unwarranted.

Towards the end of 2021, a federal judge blocked DeSantis’ anti-rioting bill, claiming that the language used in the bill was too vague. If a few people ended up turning a peaceful protest into a violent and disruptive one, then legally, the entire demonstration could be seen as a riot, which would mean that most if not all individuals involved would face criminal charges.

7.     Racially Insensitive Donors

7.Activist and donor Steven Alembik (Phil Ammann/Florida Politics)

In the year of 2018, during his campaign trail as a Republican gubernatorial candidate, a donor to DeSantis referred to former President Barack Obama as a “F—- MUSLIM N—-.” The donor, Steven Alembik, who claimed to have known DeSantis for years, argued that he should be able to use the N-word to describe African-Americans due to how the word is used within their community.

Now, while DeSantis and his team immediately denounced any association to Alembik, given DeSantis’ history, it’s not too far off to assume that he may surround himself by people who feel comfortable using such inflammatory manners of speech.

8.     Critical Race Theory

8.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressing an audience on his new bill (Brendan Farrington/AP News)

In April of 2022, DeSantis signed a law into place enacting guidelines that would prevent oppressive ideologies from being taught in classrooms for grades K-12. This action was in response to his campaign promise against the critical race theory, which states that racism is embedded into our society, and not just the result of individual biases or prejudices. DeSantis argued that the critical race theory teaches children to hate their country and each other.

Other lawmakers, however, sawDeSantis’ actionsas a way to hinder the way that slavery and African-American history are approached in the classroom. If honest discussions can’t take place about the influence of racism in the US and how it still shapes some institutions that exist today, many people fear that we’ll be setting ourselves back with the social progress we’ve made thus far.

9.     Hurricane Ian Aid Relief

9.Forecast of Hurricane Ian’s landfall (National Hurricane Center)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s destruction this past week, DeSantis pled with the federal government for relief funds to assist the state in providing aid to its citizens. Many people have accused the governor of being hypocritical, since a significant portion of aid that he’s received in the form of covid-19 relief funds, have been used to fund his own personal projects, #1 on this list being a prime example.

Additionally, during his time as a congressman, DeSantis was one of the individuals who voted against the relief bill proposed by former President Barack Obamafor victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Now that he’s dealing with his first major hurricane as the governor of Florida, his views have conveniently shifted, putting him in a position to receive billions in aid from the federal government.

10. “Don’t Say Gay”

10.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis discussing his Parental Rights in Education bill (Douglas Clifford/Tampa Bay Times)

Back in February, DeSantis signed a bill into law restricting the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms for grades K-3. Supporters of the legislation claim that it’s meant to control the way that topics concerning the LGBTQ+ community are expressed to children, while critics claim that the bill hurts children by limiting the spaces in which they can affirm their gender expressions. The backlash that this bill received resulted in critics referring to it as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. However, despite the negative reception to the bill, DeSantis has remained firm on his feelings concerning the discussion of sexuality with young children.

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