Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis raised more than $1.5 million at three New York fundraising events on Thursday, despite a kerfuffle over one of the gatherings being moved to a different venue at the last minute.
Politico reported that the DeSantis camp had upset Rockland County GOP Chair Lawrence Garvey by not extending him an invitation to a $6,600-per-person donor event scheduled for the Crowne Plaza hotel in Suffern.
But according to both another New York Republican official and the DeSantis campaign, a donor was in charge of hosting and decided to move the event to a private location — not the Florida governor or his team.
“As a former candidate, I am well aware that when somebody volunteers to host an event for you, a fundraiser, you tell them, ‘Thank you, where can I show up and when?’ You can’t — and don’t — give them a list of people that they should invite,” Chele Farley, a former finance chair for New York City Republicans, told The Post. “You have zero control over the guest list as the candidate or the campaign.”
DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin slammed the Politico report as a “hit piece” and called the Florida governor’s trip to the Empire State “a huge success.”
“When all three events conclude, he’ll have raised over $1.5 million and built critical support from key stakeholders,” Griffin told The Post.
Reps for Politico did not immediately answer a request for comment in response to Griffin.
Garvey told the outlet he was “disappointed” to not receive an apology after he was unable to attend the Suffern event.
“The Republican Party is a big tent and we’re always honored to have national figures come to Rockland County,” he said. “At the same time, there’s courtesies and protocols involved.”
Big-name Republican backers have occasionally groused about DeSantis, even before he entered the 2024 race last month. In April, financier Thomas Peterffy told the Financial Times he had “put myself on hold” after getting spooked about the Florida governor’s stances on issues like abortion and education. Days later, Peterffy cut a $1 million check to a political action committee supporting Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
The following week, New York supermarket billionaire and Trump donor John Catsimatidis ruled out backing DeSantis, asking the Washington Examiner: “Why would I support somebody to become president of the United States that doesn’t return phone calls?”
Farley, who ran for Senate against Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in 2018 and for Congress against then-Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in 2020, attended a separate DeSantis fundraiser Thursday at the Yale Club in Manhattan.
“Honestly, we raised so much more money than I expected could be raised at a luncheon right before a holiday weekend,” Farley said, adding that several “Republican stalwarts” were present, including officials from former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“He won his gubernatorial reelection by a landslide — almost 20 points,” Farley added of DeSantis. “He’s served honorably in the military. He has a distinguished academic record. I think all of those things add up and, besides successfully governing Florida, he can win a general election and beat Joe Biden.”
Asked about DeSantis’ chances against former President Donald Trump, who currently leads the governor by around 30 percentage points in national Republican primary polls, Farley said: “How long has he been a candidate? I think somebody mentioned today it’s five-and-a-half weeks.”
After a day of fundraising, DeSantis stopped into Grimaldi’s in Manhattan for an interview on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime” while chowing down on coal-and-wood-fired pizza.
On Sunday, city officials floated a proposal to force the historic pizzerias to buy expensive carbon emission-control devices, threatening the livelihoods of many owners.
“I can tell you in Florida, when they went after the gas stoves, we just made gas stoves tax free in Florida, no sales tax,” DeSantis said. “We will do something similar for coal fired ovens, so if we need New York City pizza to come to Florida, we’re going to roll out the red carpet for you guys.”