The Orlando Magic basketball donates $50,000 to Never Back Down Inc., a super PAC supporting Ron DeSantis. A team representative said the political contribution was made before the Florida governor’s formal announcement of his intention to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
On the website of the Federal Election Commission, the receipt date is listed as June 26, 2023. A spokesperson, however, asserts that the donation was made on May 19, just a few days before DeSantis declared his candidacy for president on May 24.
“To clarify, this gift was given before Gov. DeSantis entered the presidential race. It was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of Central Florida,” Joel Glass, the chief communications officer for the NBA team, told HuffPost.
According to its website, the primary objective of the Never Back Down super PAC is to assist DeSantis’ presidential campaign. Never Back Down’s spokesman did not instantly respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
FEC documents show that the orlando magic basketball donates have been made in the past. The FEC revealed that the group gave $500 to Conservative Results in May 2016. The group reportedly gave $2,000 to Maverick PAC USA, a conservative political action organization, in August 2014. Additionally, the group reportedly contributed $500 to Democrat Linda Chapin’s unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2000.
The DeVos family, in-laws of former Betsy DeVos, secretary of education in Donald Trump’s administration, owns the Orlando Magic. Dan DeVos, the brother-in-law of Betsy DeVos, currently serves as the company’s chairman. Among sports team owners, he has donated the third-largest amount to political causes, according to a 2020 USA Today article.
The Disney Co., a company with ties to the Orlando Magic, and DeSantis have engaged in a legal battle over the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws. The group has additionally held open events in favor of the LGBTQ community. Due to Disney’s opposition to the governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and what it claims to be politically motivated retaliation, the two parties are currently embroiled in litigation.
“The Orlando Magic needs to pick a side,” former state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) tweeted Wednesday in response to news of the team’s donation to DeSantis.
“You can’t have Pride Night and claim to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community and then donate $50,000 to a presidential candidate running against the LGBTQ community and promoting a platform to take away our rights.”