Florida Ag Commissioner

Florida GOP Chairman Demands Investigation Into Potential 2022 DeSantis Challenger

Democrat Nikki Fried has been a gubernatorial candidate in Florida for less than a week and already she faces a potential scandal.

Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters, who is also chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is calling for an investigation into Fried’s finances.

Fried, who serves as the state agriculture commissioner, is the only Democrat in Florida elected statewide. A key feature of her successful 2018 campaign was her support for the burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

But Gruters maintains that Fried may have failed to disclose more than $500,000 in income from that industry, according to Breitbart News. He has called for an investigation by the Legislature.

In a letter on Friday to the chairs of the Senate Committee on Rules and the House Public Integrity & Elections Committee, Gruters maintained that Fried filed late amended financial disclosure forms for 2017 and 2018 that revealed: “substantial increases in personal income” from her lobbying work with a firm called Igniting Florida, whose primary interest was medical marijuana, and which Fried solely owned and operated.

Gruters argues that Fried failed to “fully and accurately” disclose her financial interest in Igniting Florida. According to Gruters, amendments Fried filed late in May showed, for the first time, that she was paid $351,480 in 2018 and $165,751 the prior year.

Fried, who is also a lawyer, initially claimed no income from her firm and then filed a new form earlier this year saying she made $72,000.

Last month, in the same week she announced her bid for the Democratic nomination to possibly challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022, she admitted in a new filing to making the full amount for 2018.

She also filed an amendment showing the amount she was paid for 2017.

Gruters added that based on the newly filed amendments to her financial reports, “There is reason to doubt whether Igniting Florida LLC’s lobbying compensation reports filed with the Legislature in 2017 and 2018 were fully accurate.”

“We each hold positions of public trust,” Gruters wrote. “In keeping with the public trust, Florida’s Constitution requires public officials to make full and accurate disclosures of their financial interests and Florida law requires lobbying compensation reports to be true, complete, and accurate. Nobody is above the law, and it is the Legislature’s duty to ensure the public’s trust is preserved in this regard.”

Breitbart had previously reported that Fried owns an interest in a medical pot company and had received campaign contributions from a medical marijuana company created by her fiancé.

Breitbart also noted, “If she did not claim the money, Fried may have some tax problems to explain to the IRS,” in addition to whatever comes of Gruters’ complaint.

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