Tampa Bay Times by Emily Mahoney
July 12, 2019
TALLAHASSEE — More than a month after their plane touched back down in Tallahassee after returning from a trade mission in Israel, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office and the state’s business development arm provided more details about the funding of that trip and how private donors contributed.
A final price tag has emerged: private companies and donors covered about $311,000 in expenses on the trip through Enterprise Florida, a state agency that also collects private donations to attract business to the state.
Included in that figure is $74,413 worth of events and receptions in Israel, about $103,000 for ground transportation and security, $5,500 for a photographer and videographer to accompany the delegation and travel costs for DeSantis, one of his aides, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the hotel costs for Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried.
A major piece of those private donations came from twelve trip “sponsors,” which includes well-known law and lobbying firms Gray Robinson and Greenberg Traurig, as well as the Florida Realtors association. Also on the list were individual donors such as Lothar and Carlyn Mayer and Duty Free Americas, the company of Simon and Jana Falic — all of whom are wealthy pro-Israel political donors from South Florida.
Others on the list provided by Enterprise Florida: MCNA Dental Plans, which contracts with the state to provide Medicaid-funded dentistry; Geeks and Nerds, a cybersecurity and software company; Israel Bonds, which sells Israel bonds in the United States; Tellus, a company that provides electronic healthcare to Medicaid recipients; and Visit Florida, the state’s tourism arm.