Florida governor Ron DeSantis has accepted at least a dozen private flights and a costly golf simulator from University of Florida trustee Mori Hosseini, according to The Washington Post.
Hosseini has loaned DeSantis a private plane for political events, and in 2019 he took the governor on a golf outing at the famous Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, the Post reported. DeSantis later appointed Augusta chairman Fred Ridley to UF’s Board of Trustees.
Hosseini, who presently chairs the UF board, also provided a golf simulator for the governor’s mansion, estimated to cost a minimum of $27,500; models with more features start at $69,500, according to the Post. DeSantis received the simulator when he began his first term in 2019.
While the donations raise questions about the relationship between DeSantis and Hosseini, the Florida businessman was first appointed to the University of Florida board by DeSantis’s predecessor, Rick Scott. Hosseini had previously served a stint on the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s public higher education system. DeSantis reappointed him to the UF board in 2021.
Hosseini did not respond to a request for comment sent to a UF board email address.
Representatives for DeSantis—who recently launched a campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—denied any wrongdoing in accepting donations from Hosseini. The governor has drawn national attention and scrutiny from many in higher education circles for pushing a legislative agenda that critics argue is harmful to academic freedom and will weaken public institutions. Though it is common for governors to appoint political donors to trustee positions, DeSantis has faced criticism in the past from Democratic opponents who have claimed that DeSantis demanded that trustees contribute $100,000 to his 2022 gubernatorial re-election campaign or lose their seats.