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Prominent Florida donor entwined with DeSantis — and the law — found dead by suicide

Florida Board of Governors

An influential Republican donor and close ally of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who died by suicide, was under active investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

“This investigation is still ongoing and will continue until it is completed. As with all ongoing investigations, there is limited information available for release at this time,” Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters said. Florida Times-Union of the death of Kent Stermon. “However, once this investigation is complete, all applicable information will be available for public release.”

Sources close to the office told the Times Union the investigation involved allegations of sexual misconduct. Stermon was found dead in a truck in the parking lot of an Atlantic Beach, Fla., post office on Thursday, though foul play is not suspected.

Stermon’s death marked a puzzling moment in Florida politics due to his close kinship with a myriad of political figures, including DeSantis, whose political operations received more than $60,000 from his and his family’s funds. . When DeSantis was kicked out of his congressional district in 2016 after a redistricting, he moved into a condominium owned by Stermon in order to run again, according to a 2018 Policy story. The governor then named Stermon to his transition team.

Stermon, who ran defense contractor Total Military Management, spent a total of $140,000 in state political contributions.

“The Governor and First Lady were shocked and saddened to learn of Kent’s passing, and their prayers (and the prayers of our entire office) are with his family during this difficult time,” the governor’s office said. Politics, although he said he had no prior knowledge of the investigation.

His connections were not limited to the governor’s mansion. An investigation by WJXT found that Stermon — a prolific donor to former Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams — had an access card to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters for the past five years, even though he didn’t. didn’t work there.

After hundreds of swipes since 2017, it ceased to be used on November 15, just after Sheriff TK Waters was sworn in as sheriff.

The disclosure was first made by barrister John Phillips, who represents a former JSO MP, on Twitter, noting a rumor that his badge access was set to change. It elicited a response from, all people, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “You’re not worth a response cause you’re fucking media with no compass,” Curry wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “But you mention my friend, Kent, and I have to answer. Free the sand, silly.

He was also paid handsomely in political appointments. In 2019, DeSantis appointed Stermon to the state’s 17-member Board of Governors, the influential body that oversees its state university system. Stermon’s appointment was to last until 2026, according to his website.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Governor Kent Stermon,” the Board of Governors said. Policy. “For the past three years, Kent has served on this board with distinction. He has been a champion of higher education and student success in Florida and a longtime supporter of the University of North Florida in many ways over the years. The Board of Governors sends its deepest condolences to the Kent family at this difficult time. »

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