In a recent rant on his alternative social media site Truth Social, former President Donald Trump claimed to have been responsible for supposed intervention by the federal government in counting ballots after the 2018 elections in Florida, in which Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was first elected.
There’s no apparent evidence of this actually happening, but among other possibilities, Trump may have nonetheless (unsuccessfully) pressured the Justice Department to act, as he did after the 2020 elections, when allies of his across various levels of state and federal government also demanded intervention. “I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win,” Trump claimed, describing the situation in Florida in 2018. Although Trump included DeSantis in his rant about what happened, a report from The Washington Post notes that false fraud claims actually largely originated with the campaign of another statewide Republican candidate who was on the ballot that year, Rick Scott. Scott singled out Florida’s Broward County, which Trump also named.
Nikki Fried, the Democratic agriculture commissioner in the Florida state government, which is a Cabinet-level position for which voters decide the occupant, asked for an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into Trump’s claims about the 2018 elections in Florida. Meddling with the outcome of an election with the assistance of the powers of the federal government is likely a crime. “To my knowledge, there was no involvement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Office of the US Attorney in the 2018 Florida election,” Fried said. “If the President was tampering with state ballots, we need to know. If he is fabricating these allegations in the name of politics, we also need to know. Either way, these actions hurt our democracy and Floridians deserve to know their elections are operating with integrity.”
“As you know, voter fraud and tampering with ballots is a serious charge,” Fried added to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “It is also a serious charge to make these allegations in the name of politics when no such charge occurred. This is why I strongly urge you to address this matter publicly as soon as possible.” Fried, who launched an unsuccessful primary campaign for governor, wasn’t on the ballot for re-election as agriculture commissioner this November. Amid a Republican surge across Florida, the Democratic candidate to replace Fried lost by nearly 18 percent, only slightly below the almost 20 percent margin by which DeSantis won re-election against Democrat Charlie Crist. DeSantis hasn’t confirmed whether he will run for the Republican presidential nomination, no matter the consistent speculation and the polling that has shown him leading nationally and in Florida, but Donald might be finally formally confirming his 2024 campaign this week.