JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s governor acknowledged Wednesday that he knew two businessmen tied to President Donald Trump’s lawyer and now facing criminal charges. But he said they were just donors to his campaign and “nothing more than that.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked Wednesday at a news conference about Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman , who were photographed at the Republican governor’s election party last November. DeSantis said he knew Parnas from Republican National Committee gatherings and Trump campaign events.
“I knew Parnas. I didn’t know the other guy as much,” DeSantis said at an unrelated news conference on the environment. “This was a guy at RNC functions, Trump functions. I think he was viewed as one of the top supporters of the president in Florida. He was just any other donor.”
After the men were charged with campaign finance violations, DeSantis last week directed an affiliated political action committee to return $50,000 the men donated through a company.
Parnas and Fruman played key roles in Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“That was a guy who had donated,” the governor said about Parnas. “I didn’t know any of the stuff that came out at the time. It sounded legitimate to us.”
Florida Democrats have said DeSantis needs to further explain his relationship with the men.