Wednesday, April 19, 2023

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: New allegations emerge about Ron DeSantis’ confidant Kent Stermon’s problems before his death (A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics, April 18, 2023)

Republican fundraiser KENT STERMON -- Flori-DUH Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS's late mentor, landlord and fundraiser -- was he a "groomer?"

From Florida Politics:

New allegations emerge about Ron DeSantis’ confidant Kent Stermon’s problems before his death 

A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics, April 18, 2023

The 4th Circuit State Attorney's Office offers comment on Daily Mail story, ongoing investigation.

Stunning reporting from the Daily Mail makes disturbing allegations about the death by suicide of one of Ron DeSantis erstwhile allies.

Kent Stermon, a Jacksonville donor and political powerbroker who was central to the Governor’s early career and political rise, took his own life last December amid an active investigation from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, where he held significant influence for a civilian.

The new reporting fills in some details of the tragedy, and the 4th Circuit State Attorney’s Office is the first to comment.

“The investigation remains ongoing. I will let you know when it is officially closed and send you our investigative memorandum,” said spokesman David Chapman.

That report is likely to surface in the next couple of weeks.

The Daily Mail named an employee of the SAO, chief investigator Jackson Short, who began working for the SAO weeks after Stermon’s death. In a note to loved ones, Stermon urged one to “go find your own Jackson Short,” a mysterious statement.

“As to your questions about Chief Investigator Short, he and his family were personal friends with the Stermons for many years. Short remains on the job as normal,” Chapman wrote.

FP have reached out to the Executive Office of the Governor, the Mayor’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and former Sheriff and current Congressman John Rutherford for comment, and those inquiries have yet to be responded to or acknowledged.

The Mail alleges Stermon died by suicide after offering an “underaged teen” tickets to a Taylor Swift concert in exchange for a “photo of her breasts.” Reportedly, he allegedly then attempted and failed to coerce the girl into showing them in person, which allegedly led to the victim’s father confronting Stermon who offered a “five-figure sum to keep quiet.”

Stermon, who was 50 years old, had been dealing with serious health issues before his death. Stermon told Florida Politics just hours before he was found dead that he had suffered a stroke days before but was upbeat.

“I am stepping about as far from politics as I can right now,” Stermon texted, in what would be some of his last words to anyone. “My prognosis is positive and I just got discharged from (the) hospital but I have a ton of work to do to get healthy.”

In a sign of how close he was to DeSantis, Stermon served as a Board of Governors member of Florida’s State University System, on the Florida Highway Patrol Advisory Council, and was Chair of the Governor’s Public Safety Transition Advisory Committee. The Board of Governors called him a “champion of higher education and student success in Florida” when he passed away.

Stermon had a unique role in regional politics, making connections — particularly for DeSantis’ once-unlikely path to the 2018 Republican nomination for Governor.

He also more recently was plugged int the process of filling the vacancy left when former Sheriff Mike Williams, another close friend of Stermon’s, resigned months before his death, including having advance knowledge of the Governor’s appointment of interim Sheriff Pat Ivey and the Governor’s political support of current Sheriff T.K. Waters.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of folks in the Sheriff’s Office and outside,” DeSantis said, setting up the decision last summer.

Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ Communications Director, offered a statement on the Governor’s behalf after his passing, when many of the circumstances of his death were not known.

“The Governor and First Lady were shocked and saddened to hear of Kent’s passing, and their prayers (and our entire office’s prayers) are with his family during this difficult time,” Fenske said in December.

FP has an open request for comment to DeSantis’ office. He is in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

Stermon, who rented a home to DeSantis while he was in Congress, helped build a bridge to the Northeast Florida establishment in both fundraising and endorsements.

When endorsements were slow going for DeSantis, Northeast Florida pols were pivotal in changing the trend around the time of a DeSantis-Adam Putnam debate in Jacksonville, with Stermon driving momentum. Ahead of that debate, former state Sen. Rob Bradley and state Rep. Travis Cummings issued a joint endorsement of DeSantis.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also counted Stermon as a friend and ally, and they collaborated politically in recent years, including hosting an early fundraiser in Jacksonville for former Senate candidate Herschel Walker of Georgia.

Mayor Curry offered comment after Stermon’s death in December: “My heartfelt condolences to Kent Stermon’s family during this difficult time. I cannot imagine their pain and heartbreak. My thoughts and prayers are with them.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

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