Gov. Ron DeSantis Appoints Tina Descovich to Florida Ethics Commission
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed Tina Descovich, a polarizing figure from an organization labeled as an “extremist” parental rights groups, to the Florida Ethics Commission.
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Tina Descovich, known as a co-founder Moms for Liberty, had previously won a seat on the Brevard County School Board in 2016. Moreover, she took on the role of President for the Florida Coalition of School Board Members. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Valdosta State University.
Of concern, her organization receives large monetary donations from current elected Republicans and candidates. moms for Liberty also endorses candidates all over the state and country. It appears that would be a clear conflict of interest being that ethics commission exists to regulate elected officials and candidates.
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Descovich was defeated in her re-election bid in 2020 by Jennifer Jenkins which lead to her being one of the 3 original co-founders of Moms for Liberty. The other founders are Tiffiany Justice, a former Indian River County School Board members, and Bridget Zeigler who is the wife of RPOF Chair Christian Ziegler. Bridget is also a current school board member in Sarasota, and was appointed by DeSantis to the board that oversee’s Disney’s Orlando theme parks. Tina is filling the spot on the Ethics Commission that was vacated by the former Chair Glen Gilzean who was found to be unethically, simultaneously holding the $400k/year job as the administrator of the same board overseeing Disney, that Ziegler was appointed to. It is indeed a small world after all.
Ironically, State Representative Randy Fine was just recently found by the Ethics Commission to have probable cause of abusing his office and position, in a complaint filed by Jennifer Jenkins. He is currently awaiting a hearing facing a judge which may determine his punishment or penalties. He has several more ethics complaints pending. Fine is a close ally of Moms for Liberty and Tina.
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As DeSantis is preparing his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, the support of groups like Moms for Liberty becomes increasingly important. Earlier this summer, the Governor addressed the group during their national convention in Philadelphia. During the event, he issued stark warnings aimed at “drag queens” in relation to the well-being of children.
Despite the Southern Poverty Law Center labeling Moms for Liberty as an “extremist” organization, DeSantis remains undeterred in seeking their endorsement. The collaboration between the Governor and the Moms was particularly visible in the 2022 election cycle, where they jointly targeted school board races that stood against DeSantis’s education policies.
They most recently made headlines when one of their official news letters infamously quoted Hitler on the cover. This was later defended by co-founder Tiffany Justice.
Significant policy outcomes have been realized, most notably the expansion of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. Originally, the legislation aimed to limit discussions of sexuality up to third grade. However, it now encompasses the entire K-12 education system. Moms for Liberty had proposed to expand this limitation up to the eighth grade. The First Lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis, praised the efforts of these “mamas on a mission” during her address to the group in the previous year. Her engagement led to the creation of the Mamas for DeSantis campaign group, which played a crucial role in the Governor’s substantial re-election victory. The campaign has since scaled nationally, gearing up for 2024.
Gov. DeSantis’s engagement with Moms for Liberty isn’t new. He previously addressed them, receiving praise for his robust vision for Florida and being dubbed as “the Gladiator Governor” with a clear stance against “woke ideologies”.
Additionally, DeSantis has been proactive in elevating members of the Moms for Liberty to key positions. Last year’s appointment of Esther Byrd from Duval County to the Florida Board of Education is a testament to this.