Ron DeSantis’s father shared a Facebook post that called then-President Barack Obama a “cop-hating terrorist,” one of several racially tinged posts he shared on social media in recent years before he turned his attention to his son’s campaign for governor.
The elder DeSantis, an active volunteer on his son’s campaign, was the latest person in DeSantis’s orbit to be found sharing incendiary material since he won the Republican nomination for Florida governor.
His father, Ronald D. DeSantis, has recently used his social media accounts to tout his son’s campaign and mock his son’s rival for the nomination, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, for supporting “amnesty.” But in the past he has attacked affirmative action, reparations for African-Americans and Colin Kaepernick.
On Monday, Ron DeSantis resigned from Congress to focus on his campaign, which is battling accusations that he has used coded racist language about his opponent, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee running to be the state’s first black governor.
DeSantis’s relationship with race has been under scrutiny since Aug. 29, the day after he won the primary, when he said in a Fox News interview that Florida’s voters should not “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum.
DeSantis apparently deleted his own personal Facebook account after the American Ledger reported that same day that he was a moderator on a conservative Facebook group where members shared racist and anti-Muslim attacks.
While his campaign said DeSantis never participated in the group, the Ledger reported that an official with the campaign, Tony Ledbetter, actively posted in the group to encourage support for DeSantis. Ledbetter also posted — in the group and on his personal page — material attacking David Hogg and Muslims and comparing gun-control advocates to “Jews that gave up their firearms to Hitler” and were “led into gas chambers.”
The Washington Post reported Monday that the DeSantis campaign paid Ledbetter, the chairman of the Republican Party in Volusia County, $13,500 for “consulting” and “campaign management.”
In August 2017, DeSantis’s father shared a post from a Facebook group called The Blacksphere in which the black conservative commentator Kevin Jackson called Obama a “cop-hating terrorist” and wrote that the Black Lives Matter movement “gunned down INNOCENT police officers protecting the rights of these terrorists to protest.”
In a video with the post, Jackson accused black activists and Obama of stirring racial hatred after a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile, a black man who told the officer he had a gun in the car and was reaching to get his identification, and ignoring the causes of white people killed by police.
Days before the 2016 election, DeSantis’s father posted a meme of Hillary Clinton with the text, “Trump’s comments about women are deplorable except for the whores, sluts and bimbos who seduced my husband,” and referred to her aide Huma Abedin, whom the far right accused of terrorist links, as the “shadiest woman I’ve ever seen.”
Last year, he posted on Twitter: “‘Affirmative Action’ should be applied to the NFL and NBA. The leagues should be up of 13% Blacks and the rest White. Can anyone argue with this based on past affirmative actions?”
In February, Florida political blogger Peter Schorsch noted that DeSantis’s father posted in a Facebook group promoting the campaign how Democrats and independents could switch their affiliation to Republican in order to vote for his son in the state’s closed primary.
“Ron DeSantis can always count on at least one unwavering cheerleader — his dad, Ron Daniel DeSantis of Dunedin,” Schorsch wrote.