The gubernatorial office of Ron DeSantis recently hired three individuals who had been fired by the campaign, according to a report from Axios.
As the campaign faces significant financial constraints, resulting in firing a 3rd of its staff by a third in July, the Florida governor is relying on his publicly funded office to retain specific aides within his inner circle.
During a meeting held at the Tallahassee campaign headquarters last month, Generra Peck, DeSantis’ campaign manager, informed approximately thirty campaign staff members about their impending termination. Then, James Uthmeier, the chief of staff in DeSantis’ gubernatorial office, appeared and encouraged these employees to consider applying for positions within his office, according to two individuals familiar with the meeting. Recent searches of the Governor’s official website did not show any of these job openings.
The following day, the governor’s office sent out an email reiterating this encouragement to apply.
Uthmeier chose not to provide a comment. Both the governor’s office and the campaign did not respond to requests for comments.
Individuals who were dismissed from the campaign have been hired by DeSantis’ state-funded office. This includes the appointment of conservative influencer Will Chamberlain, along with two other former campaign staffers—digital aide Jordan Chamberlain (who is Will’s spouse) and another communications aide.
The recent personnel changes within the campaign and DeSantis’ state office exemplify a recurring pattern where the governor’s publicly funded office intersects with his campaign activities.
Notably, Uthmeier, in a recent report by the New York Times, received a briefing on the campaign’s financial situation and provided his evaluation directly to DeSantis. He clarified that he did so in a voluntary capacity and expressed full confidence in Peck.
Earlier in May, officials from the governor’s office solicited donations from Florida lobbyists for DeSantis’ presidential campaign, according to NBC News.
DeSantis’ spokespersons also declined to address inquiries earlier this spring regarding potential taxpayer funding for travel during the governor’s book tour prior to his campaign launch in May. It was also recently discovered that DeSantis’ was using official government vehicles while traveling to campaign events across the country. This was only uncovered after the campaign was involved in a muilt-vehicle crash, resulting in an official report by law enforcement that identified the vehicles.
Federal regulations stipulate that former campaign staff cannot join the DeSantis-associated Never Back Down super PAC within 120 days of leaving the campaign.
By bringing these former staff members into DeSantis’ state office, the governor can maintain proximity to them and provide compensation, all without utilizing campaign resources or infringing upon federal regulations.
While such arrangements are not uncommon for public officials who are concurrently running for other positions, experts note that typically a few staffers are engaged in genuine government work.
In a separate development, two additional DeSantis aides, Dave Abrams (media director) and Tucker Obenshain (external affairs head), left the campaign in the previous month to join a nonprofit group supportive of DeSantis.
These staffing changes form part of a broader campaign strategy by DeSantis’ team to stem the tide of negative press, financial overspending, and wavering support from crucial donors in recent weeks.
These shifts also follow a series of blunders on social media, including a particularly inflammatory incident where a campaign staff member crafted a controversial video featuring a Nazi symbol, which was then clandestinely released.
Will Chamberlain, a notable right-wing figure during the Trump administration, rose to prominence. He was the driving force behind popularizing the #stopthesteal hashtag in November 2020, a rallying cry that attracted many conservatives to the unfounded belief that Donald Trump had emerged victorious in the 2020 election.
In 2019, Chamberlain acquired the conservative publication Human Events. His decision to join DeSantis’ campaign this year was seen within conservative circles as a strategic victory for the Florida governor, aimed at loosening Trump’s grip on the GOP’s foundational support.
Chamberlain’s departure from the DeSantis campaign was initially disclosed by Semafor. Notably, Chamberlain maintains a close relationship with Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ rapid response director, whose emphasis on online messaging has faced criticism even from some of the governor’s own allies.
Pushaw’s team was responsible for conceptualizing and promoting a video critique that portrayed Trump as excessively supportive of LGBTQ rights, an approach that triggered widespread backlash for its perceived homophobic undertones.