Val Demings is in hot water. A new report shows that Demings has funneled hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a donor in the form of office rent in a shady “arrangement” that “could also violate House ethics rules.”
The donor, who herself has been implicated in a separate bribery scandal that resulted in her being booted from a company board as part of a settlement agreement, has more than made up for her initial investment in Demings’ campaign with $320,000 in taxpayer-funded rent kickbacks from the Congresswoman.
Longtime utility and telecom company political operative Julia Johnson gave thousands of dollars to Demings prior to the Democrat’s successful 2016 congressional campaign, according to campaign finance disclosures. Just weeks after Demings’s win, Johnson on December 29, 2016, purchased two units in an Orlando business complex for $500,000, local property records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. Within days, Demings’s official office began paying Johnson’s LLC more than $5,300 a month to rent the two suites, which were combined into one office space. Demings’s lease with Johnson began on Jan. 3, 2017—the same day Demings was sworn into Congress—and the Democrat is still paying her campaign donor for the space as of January. In total, Demings’s office has paid Johnson nearly $320,000 since 2017, allowing the donor to pay for much of her real estate purchase with taxpayer dollars.
Demings’s arrangement with Johnson could also violate House ethics rules, which require district office leases to be “entered into … as the result of a bona fide, arms-length, marketplace transaction” between two sides that “are not relatives nor have had, or continue to have, a professional or legal relationship.” Demings in 2017 spoke at an event for Politic365, a now-defunct media site whose domain was first registered by Johnson’s consulting firm. Johnson’s stepdaughter, meanwhile, served as editor in chief of the site. In July 2012—just two months after Johnson’s first contribution to Demings’s campaign—Politic365 said Demings “may be [the] #1 House candidate in [the] country,” adding that the Democrat “may have the most compelling personal history of any candidate in the country.”
“Val Demings’ swampy kickback arrangement with a scandal-tainted donor is exactly what Floridians hate about Washington politicians. The House Ethics Committee should immediately look into Demings’ apparent violation of the rules in order to ensure Florida taxpayers aren’t financing Demings’ political ambitions.” -SLF Communications Director Jack Pandol