The Phoenix Flyer

The price tag for DeSantis inauguration is in the millions

By: - January 18, 2019 12:57 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis at legislative luncheon during inauguration activities

From a black-tie inaugural ball to a prayer breakfast, legislative luncheon and other activities in the state capital and elsewhere in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration will end up costing several million dollars, though the final tally is not complete.

The initial budget was about $3.5-million — and is expected to come in under that, with the help of nearly 100 sponsors who gave money to cover the events.

Those sponsors include groups representing banks, law firms and realtors, as well as health and pharmaceutical companies and energy and agriculture interests, among other donors, according to a sponsor list from the inaugural committee.

The sponsors would be individual DeSantis supporters or special interest groups that would likely support the governor’s policy initiatives.

DeSantis raised money through the Republican Party of Florida to pay for the inaugural events.

Inaugural chair Brian Ballard, who said he’s chaired or co-chaired four inaugurations, gave high praise to DeSantis’s event.

“I think it was the best organized; the most visually pleasing and cost-efficient, for all the things we put together,” Ballard said.

“And taxpayers were not left holding the bill.”

Tallying up the the full pricetag is difficult, because the state GOP is making public the expenditures as part of finance reports submitted to the state’s Division of Elections.

The most recent report covered Republican Party of Florida expenses between Nov. 2 and Dec 31, and could include expenditures unrelated to inauguration activities.

And not all expenditures provided detail that would explain precisely what service was provided.

The clearest, big-ticket expense listed was $306,289.78 for “events space rental” at Florida State University.

That turned out to be the inaugural ball venue, at the Donald L. Tucker Center, that was expected to hold 2,500 people, according to Florida State University documents.

Another $158,511 went to the Jacksonville-based PRI Productions, for event staging of the various events, including the inaugural ball.

Thousands more was spent on event audio/visual services, event planning, event management consulting, event security and other expenses.

Here’s the list of sponsors for the inaugural activities:

A. Duda & Sons, Inc.; Academica; Aetna; Alkermes; Allan E. Keen; Allegiant Air; Ambassador John D. Rood and Mrs. Sonya A. Rood; Amscot Financial; Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.; Anthem Inc., and the Florida Association of Heath Plans; AT & T, Automated HealthCare Solutions.

Beer Wholesalers Association, Brian & Miriam D’Isernia, Brown & Brown, Inc.

Centene Management; Charters Schools USA; Comcast NBCUniversal; Community Health Systems; Consulate Health Care, CSX Transportation.

Darden Restaurants, David MacNeil, Founder/CEO WeatherTech; Dosal Tobacco Corporation; Duke Energy, DxWeb & The Stahl Family.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group

FCCI Insurance Group; Florida Automobile Dealers Association; Florida Bankers Association; Florida Chiropractic Association, Inc.; Florida Credit Union Association; Florida East Coast Industries; Florida Justice Association; Florida Medical Association; Florida Optomeric Association; Florida Police Benevolent Association; Florida Realtors; Florida Retail Federation; Florida Surplus Lines Association; Foley & Lardner, LLP; Frank N. Tsmatoules, LCC, Fred & Gail P’Pool

General Motors; Graci & Dennis McGillicuddy; Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Greenspoon Marder, LLP.

Heritage Insurance; Herzog; HNTB Corporation; Holland & Knight, Humana.

James C. France, Lesa France Kennedy; James W. Heavener; JAX Chamber; Jeff Vinik, JM Family Enterprises.

Leon Medical, Inc.

Marchena & Graham, P.A.; MCNA Dentral Insurance Company; Michael & Cheryl Meads; Mori Hosseini, ICI Homes; Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Mr. & Mrs. John Brunetti, Jr.; Mr. & Mrs. Jonathan K. Hage, Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Swezy.

Nylah Thompson & H L Hartford; Pat & O’Ann Christiansen; People’s Trust Insurance; Pfizer, Inc.; PhRMA, Reyes Holdings; RIDA Development Corporation, Ronald L. Book, P.A.

Scientific Games Corporation; Securus Technologies; Senator Pat Neal; State Farm Insurance, Florida Justice Reform Institute; Sunshine Health; SunTrust, Surterra Wellness.

The Boeing Company; The Corradino Group; The GEO Group, Tidal Basin Government Consulting.

United Health Group

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S.A; Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S.A; WellCare Health Plans, Inc.; Wholesale & Specialty Insurers Association; Wilbur E. Brewton.

Ygrene Energy Fund Florida



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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.