The DeSantis Surveillance State, Revisited

At the outset of his campaign, Ron DeSantis made a conscious decision to bring as much of his political apparatus in-house as possible, avoiding vendors and other third parties.
At the outset of his campaign, Ron DeSantis made a conscious decision to bring as much of his political apparatus in-house as possible, avoiding vendors and other third parties. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
July 20, 2023

Back in 2022, I profiled Casey DeSantis, the telegenic and ambitious wife of Florida governor Ron DeSantis and his closest political advisor. One of the leitmotifs that kept reappearing in the reporting process was the couple’s paranoia over being targeted by unscrupulous political contractors or betrayed by disloyal insiders. Rising political stars attract big money, after all, and big money attracts graft-hungry, leak-prone operatives. “It’s very smart on the one hand,” one G.O.P. operative told me at the time. “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.” 

In order to keep a closer eye on their resources, the DeSantii made a conscious decision to bring as much of their political apparatus in-house as possible, avoiding vendors and other third parties that might have lowered their costs. Graphic designers? Their own. Email lists and fundraising blasts? They built their own backend infrastructure, refusing to outsource just about anything.