In a surprising turn of events, Chris Jankowski, the chief executive of the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, tendered his resignation on Wednesday.
The abrupt departure of Chris Jankowski is perceived as a significant setback to DeSantis' aspirations for the Republican presidential nomination.
Under Jankowski's leadership, the super PAC, Never Back Down has been pushing the boundaries of legal coordination with campaigns. It has assumed roles typically reserved for political campaigns, such as grassroots networking and funding certain travel expenses for DeSantis.
The New York Times was the first to report Jankowski's immediate resignation. Given the ongoing legal scrutiny facing the super PAC, this development comes at a critical time.
In a public statement, Chris Jankowski affirmed his resignation while expressing continued support for DeSantis' presidential campaign. He cited the challenging environment and strategic disagreements as reasons for his departure.
Since DeSantis announced his campaign, the super PAC has been embroiled in controversy, facing accusations of creating more problems than solutions for DeSantis.
Never Back Down has reportedly struggled with fundraising efforts and establishing a connection with the electorate. These issues have compounded the challenges facing DeSantis' political operation.
Internal strife within DeSantis' team has also been a point of concern. Reports indicate significant disagreements and a lack of coherence in the campaign's direction.
Adding to the super PAC's woes, the emergence of a new pro-DeSantis super PAC, Fight Right Inc., in November raised questions about Never Back Down's future role and effectiveness.
A notable incident involves a top Iowa evangelical leader, Bob Vander Plaats, who confirmed receiving a total of $95,000 from DeSantis' campaign, a linked super PAC, and a nonprofit before endorsing DeSantis.
Plaats insisted that all financial dealings were transparent and lawful, stating, "Everything we do is above board."
"Never Back Down’s main goal and sole focus has been to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as President. Given the current environment it has become untenable for me to deliver on the shared goal and that goes well beyond a difference of strategic opinion. For the future of our country I support and pray Ron DeSantis is our 47th president." - Chris Jankowski
The timing of these events is particularly significant as the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest in the presidential race, are set for January 15, 2024.
DeSantis formally launched his presidential campaign in May 2023. Since then, his campaign, particularly the Never Back Down super PAC, has been under constant scrutiny.
From May to November 2023, the super PAC faced a barrage of bad publicity, legal questions, and internal conflicts. The new super PAC, Fight Right Inc., was formed in the same period, adding to the complexities.
Amidst these developments, Jankowski's resignation on November 22, 2023, has added another layer of uncertainty to DeSantis' campaign.
The resignation of a key advisor and the challenges faced by the super PAC pose significant obstacles for DeSantis. His campaign now must navigate these turbulent waters as it heads towards the crucial Iowa caucuses.
With the caucuses serving as the first significant test for presidential hopefuls, DeSantis' team faces the task of restructuring and revitalizing their campaign strategy.
The unfolding situation has cast a spotlight on the intricacies and challenges of political campaigning, especially concerning super PACs' roles and legal boundaries.