Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Moms for Liberty co-founder to state Commission on Ethics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a “parental rights” group that has sought to take over school boards in multiple states, to the Florida Commission on Ethics on Wednesday.

Tina Descovich was named to the nine-member, Tallahassee-based commission, which investigates alleged breaches of public trust by elected and appointed officials, as well as state employees.

Descovich was previously elected to the School Board of Brevard County in 2016 and served as president of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members.

Moms for Liberty started with Descovich and two other Florida women fighting COVID-19 restrictions in 2021. It has quickly ascended as a national player in Republican politics, helped along the way by the group’s political training and close relationships with high-profile GOP groups and lawmakers.

The group’s support for school choice and the “fundamental rights of parents” to direct their children’s education has also drawn allies such as the conservative Heritage Foundation.

DeSantis spoke at Moms for Liberty events in Tampa last year and in Philadelphia earlier this year. The Republican governor also discussed his presidential campaign on the group's podcast in July.

Moms for Liberty has been labeled an “extremist” organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly harassing community members, advancing anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation and fighting to scrub diverse and inclusive material from lesson plans.

Along with Descovich, DeSantis also appointed South Florida attorney Luis Fuste to the commission. Both will need to be approved by the Florida Senate.

Former commission chair Glen Gilzean resigned from the unpaid position last month after a legal opinion said he was unable to simultaneously serve on the commission and work for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The special taxing district for the land of Walt Disney World Resort was created earlier this year as part of an ongoing feud between Disney and DeSantis. Gilzean earns $400,000 annually as the district's administrator.

Another vacancy on the ethics commission was created in June, when former member Jim Waldman's term ended.