A few months back, a G.O.P. operative was telling me about an old employee of his who had sought a job with Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor on a meteoric rise through the MAGA stratosphere, with all vectors pointed at a White House run in either ‘24 or ‘28 depending on the smoke signals emanating from Mar-a-Lago. The employee had already been through multiple rounds of interviews, and passed background checks. Having been deemed worthy of a meeting with the principal, he was called in for one last evaluation. To his surprise, this final interview was not with Ron DeSantis. It was with his wife, Casey.
When I mentioned that anecdote to a G.O.P. consultant, he remarked that he had heard similar stories about the “DeSantii” interview process—not just for potential employees, but for vendors and contractors, too. Sometimes, both Ron and Casey would run the interview. Sometimes, it was just Ron. If he wasn’t available, Casey was “an acceptable substitute,” this person told me. Every single time, he added, the couple would request piles of advance documentation that could impress a job candidate or scare them off entirely, but at the very least convey the magnitude of the position in question. Every dollar that the job candidate proposed in their budget needed to be accounted for in that interview, and every motive needed to be uncovered.
This consultant hypothesized that the couple are strongly aware they could be targets for graft, an endemic problem in the post-Trump Republican ecosphere. Their scrutiny and diligence, reflected in a recent New Yorker profile by Dexter Filkins, are also reflective of their own ambition and very un-Trump-like discipline, itself a potent combination for future electoral success. “It’s very smart on the one hand,” this person said, referring to the couple’s tightly controlled inner circle. “It’s also not very smart, on the other hand. It requires a surveillance state that requires a lot of resources and energy to keep up.”