The people running a hate-filled Facebook group that Rep. Ron DeSantis moderated tagged the congressman at least 17 times since 2015 and referred to him as an active administrator of the group on several occasions.
DeSantis, who won Florida’s Republican primary for governor Tuesday after getting President Donald Trump’s endorsement, left the group Wednesday night after the Ledger reported his involvement earlier in the day.
The group, simply named Tea Party, is littered with attacks on African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community and David Hogg, an advocate for gun control since surviving a massacre at his high school in Parkland, Fla., in February, and conspiracies about the “deep state,” Pizzagate and the Sandy Hook school shooting. In between, there are posts celebrating DeSantis, Trump and other right-wing politicians.
DeSantis was added as a “moderator” of the group on April 28, according to the group’s list of members as of Wednesday.
Facebook users can join the group by click a “+ Join Group” button on its page. According to Facebook, users who are added to a group by others can “preview the group for 28 days before deciding if they’d like to join the group.”
DeSantis’s campaign and House offices did not return messages and emails left for comment Wednesday and today.
In July 2015, an administrator announced DeSantis’s endorsement by the Club for the Growth by referring to him as a “group member.” In July 2017, the same administrator praised DeSantis’s appeared on Fox Business Network and said the group was “blessed to have this patriot as a long-time member of our Tea Party group!”
Last month, a group moderator wrote: “The oldest and largest Tea Party group on Facebook is proud to add Congressman Ron D. DeSantis, a true Trump-loving patriot and the next Governor of Florida, to our #TeaParty admin team. Please welcome him!” Five days later, the administrator referred to DeSantis as “an admin in our Tea Party group.”
On Tuesday, after DeSantis won the primary, the administrator wrote, “Congratulations to Congressman Ron D. DeSantis, one of our Tea Party group administrators and the #TrumpEndorsed candidate in the Florida Governors (sic) race, on his impressive win today!”