Opponents of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are rebuking mailers sent to Iowa households that boasted about former President Donald Trump’s LGBTQ+ record.
The Iowa mailers do not appear to be sent from the DeSantis campaign, however, they follow a recent string of pro-DeSantis ads that seek to portray Trump as being vehemently pro-gay and transgender rights.
The recent mailers thank Trump for standing up for LGBTQ+ rights and note that he “celebrated gay marriage victory at Mar-a-Lago Party with Log Cabin Republicans,” a Republican organization that advocates for LGBT rights. They also dubbed Trump a “transgender trailblazer” in reference to his decision to allow transgender model Jenna Talackova to compete in a Miss Universe competition when he owned the pageant.
Right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich shared images of the “‘attack ad’ DeSantis supporters are running in Iowa against Trump,” adding, “I don’t get it, truly I don’t see the winning play here.”
Laura Loomer, a far-right activist and vocal Trump supporter, said the DeSantis campaign was “desperate” and employing “a dirty trick that won’t work.”
“Republicans don’t hate gay people. Ron DeSantis is out of touch,” she added.
“It should be obvious to everyone at this point that DeSantis has crossed the line from channeling legitimate cultural grievances to weaponizing bigotry,” commented another user.
The mailers, however, were not sent from the DeSantis campaign itself, as they lack a disclaimer that they were paid for by it, a mandatory requirement by the Federal Election Commission for any public communications made by a political committee. The mailers instead state that they were paid for by Advancing Our Values, an organization that first registered as a 504 non-profit in Iowa on June 27.
The listed registered agent for the organization is Cogency Global Inc., which provides registered agent services nationwide. The Florida-based Moms for Liberty Foundation uses Cogency Global as its registered agent as well, state records show.
Some DeSantis supporters allege the mailers were a product of progressive lobbyists, as the address listed for Advancing Our Values was at one point listed as an address for Iowa Voices, a healthcare-focused offshoot of the progressive organization Iowa Forward. However, both Iowa Voices and Iowa Forward appear to have ceased activities as of 2020.
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment about whether the campaign had any affiliation with the mailers.
Cernovich followed up in a later tweet saying that the mailers are “so counter productive that DeSantis supporters are saying it’s not from any group backing him.”
“Imagine playing that stupid,” Cernovich continued. “Own the ad if you endorse the message. Don’t be cowards.”
Regardless of whether the mailers did not originate from DeSantis’ campaign, they follow a similar line of attack by the DeSantis campaign.
One ad released by the pro-DeSantis political action committee Never Back Down two weeks ago also hit at Trump for allowing Talackova to compete in his Miss Universe competition. And a separate video put out on June 30 by DeSantis’ social media team similarly invoked Trump’s past supportive comments toward LGBTQ+ rights. It has since been deleted by the original poster.
Although that ad faced swift backlash and was ultimately deleted, DeSantis defended its premise in an interview last week.
“I think that’s totally fair game because he’s now campaigning, saying the opposite, that he doesn’t think that you should have men competing in women’s things like athletics,” DeSantis said.
A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Trump leading DeSantis by 24 points on average in Iowa, where the Republican caucuses are set to kick off.