A Day in the Dictorial Life of the DeSantis Administration
Getty Images

A Day in the Dictorial Life of the DeSantis Administration

Cronyism, Misogyny, Conflicts of Interest, and Blind Loyalty

Ron DeSantis wants to "Make America Florida." Here's a peek into how the Florida government operates and what to expect should Ron DeSantis become President.

The state Legislature created the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) 40 years ago to provide affordable housing opportunities for residents. Florida is amid an affordable housing crisis, and the Florida legislature has appropriated $711 million to the quasi-private corporation to address it. The executive director, Mike DiNapoli, was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis instead of following the written hiring practices, including advertising the position, conducting interviews, and calling work references. DiNapoli never submitted a resume or filled out an application. His sole letter of recommendation came from DeSantis's chief of staff, James Uthmeier, who now heads the DeSantis election campaign.

Mike DiNapoli, appointed in February of 2023, wasn't a big hit within Florida Housing. Employees told investigators he constantly made sexist comments, yelled at staff, commented about people's weight, and threatened to fire people. Inspector General Chris Hearst said, "The conduct is severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive."

Related: The First Republican Presidential Debate Had More Losers than Winners

Since his hire, ten percent of the Florida Housing workforce has either quit or been fired. DiNapoli ordered the chief financial officer to sell Disney bonds at a loss for a non-financial reason, violating the corporation's ethics policy because it was a "bad look" given the governor's ongoing legal battle with Disney. DiNapoli also sits on the First Housing Development Corp. of Florida board, which has contracts with the corporation. Three Florida Housing board lawyers said DiNapoli had a conflict of interest, but DiNapoli disagreed. He told the Inspector General it was a "gray line" and "an appearance of a conflict is not a conflict."

DiNapoli was placed on paid administrative leave in July while the Inspector General completed his investigation. There were also concerns about DiNapoli's credit history, including bankruptcy and foreclosure, which might be viewed negatively by the Federal Housing Administration, which requires principal owners and corporate officers to be creditworthy individuals.

In late August, Ron DeSantis reinstated DiNapoli without authority, a spokesman saying, "he found nothing to justify the placement of Mr. DiNapoli on administrative leave." An outside lawyer for Florida Housing found DeSantis had no power to reinstate anyone at the corporation that is outside of state government. Most of the Board was appointed by DeSantis.

Related: The Fear of Donald Trump's Playbook

On Friday, August 8th, the inspector general released his report, and the Board voted to place DiNapoli on a second paid leave. Board member Meredith Ivey, a former DeSantis spokesperson now a deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce, blasted the report, saying she had yet to read it fully. The Board voted to prohibit employees who spoke to the Inspector General from being fired; Ivey voted against the measure.

DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern criticized the second suspension and said the state would "explore every available tool to ensure proper management and oversight of the Board and its staff, including the Inspector General. It's clear to us that at least some members of this Board believe they can wield unchecked power to recklessly disparage a public official and tarnish his reputation without basic fairness and due process. The Board is clearly incapable of exercising prudent judgment."

This is how Florida is run, more like a dictatorship than a democracy. Look for DeSantis to replace board members and the Inspector General rather than admit having made a poor choice in DiNapoli. This story will be continued.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.