DeSantis camp blasts donor’s N-word tweet; won’t return past contributions

Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump at a Tampa rally on July 31. (Zac Anderson/The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Republican Ron DeSantis‘s campaign for Florida governor has condemned a campaign donor’s recent tweet that called former President Barack Obama the N-word and pledged not to accept any more contributions from the donor.

But DeSantis is rejecting calls from Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo and others to return at least $4,000 in past contributions from Boca Raton communications executive Steven Alembik and his business.

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Alembik’s SMA Communications gave $2,000 to the DeSantis campaign in July and $2,000 to a pro-DeSantis PAC in January. Alembik also gave $2,500 in 2017 to the Fund For Florida’s Future, which is not officially connected to DeSantis but gave $2.5 million to the DeSantis PAC early this year.

“That money was donated before the primary and has been spent. He (Alembik) said something last week and we are not taking any more money,” said DeSantis campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson.

“We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: We adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric,” Lawson said of Alembik’s tweet, which has been deleted.

Alembik told Politico, which first reported the story, that he is “absolutely not” a racist and had tweeted about Obama in anger.

Reached Friday, Alembik declined comment but had his company’s vice president of operations, Bianca J. Hennings, call The Palm Beach Post.

“I would never work for or work with a racist. This man stands for integrity,” Hennings said.

Alembik made news last year after President Donald Trump drew fire for initially blaming “many sides” for the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. When a wave of nonprofits responded by cancelling plans to host events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Alembik booked an event there for his organization, The Truth About Israel. He had DeSantis speak at its February event.

Alembik told The Palm Beach Post last year: “I’m reading about these groups pulling out of Mar-a-Lago and I’m thinking, ‘This is ridiculous. Somebody needs to take a stand here and do something. My president is my president. I like what he stands for. With him as president, I don’t have to worry. He’s got Israel’s back.”

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Rizzo, who also chairs the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, called Thursday for DeSantis to return past Alembik contributions.

“Ron DeSantis’ campaign is funded by bigots — and he apparently has no problem with it. Since day one, DeSantis has run a divisive, toxic campaign, and it’s only getting worse with each passing day. If DeSantis doesn’t return the money from Steven Alembik immediately, he owns this,” Rizzo said.