Govt. Jeff Roe, chief strategist of the leading super PAC backing Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid, resigned Saturday night, the latest and perhaps most significant departure from a group consumed by turmoil in recent weeks.
Since the day before Thanksgiving, a pro-DeSantis super PAC called Never Back Down has seen a chief executive and a board chair resign; the removal of the second chief executive along with two other top officials; Now Mr. Roe’s midnight departure. Mr. All come after intense infighting and finger-wagging as DeSantis slipped on the ballot.
“I can’t believe it ended this way,” Mr. Ro wrote in a statement He posted on X on Saturday night. Mr. News of Roe’s resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.
Her decision to step down follows comments from the super PAC committee’s new chairman, Scott Wagner, a DeSantis loyalist and Florida appointee. Mr. Wagner explained The Washington Post Why the previous chief executive and two – Mr. All those who worked for Roe – were fired.
Mr. Wagner accused them of “mismanagement and behavioral problems” and “numerous unauthorized leaks”. The employee’s lawyer Mr. The Post reported contacting Wagner, who amended her statement to add hedges to those allegations.
“I cannot in good conscience associate with Never Back Down based on the reports in The Washington Post,” Mr. Roe wrote in a statement. Mr. He said he still believes DeSantis will be the next president and hailed the Never Back Down team as “political warriors.”
Reached for comment on Saturday, Mr. Wagner did not immediately respond.
From the beginning, Never Back Down has had a Frankenstein’s monster in its setting, Mr. Roe and some of his top lieutenants, primarily Mr. DeSantis was forced to live with a decision-making body made up of longtime friends and loyalists. The arrangement has raised questions about how closely the campaign and super PAC followed rules prohibiting mergers.
Former President Donald J. Trump, who was in Las Vegas for a UFC bout and has regularly mocked Mr Roe in private, celebrated the exit in a post on his social media site Truth Social. “Jeff Roe is out – Desanctimonious is game over,” he said wrote.
The future of indoor operations at Never Back Down, which has raised more than $130 million as of July, remains unclear. Mr. Rowe’s associates hold many key positions on the board, and his firm, Axiom, has helped staff early state efforts for super PACs. It is not clear if they are all in place.
Mr. News that Roe was leaving the super PAC began circulating just before 8 p.m. Saturday. But Mr. Several people associated with Raw and Never Back Down did not respond to multiple messages seeking confirmation. Mr. Roe eventually gave his message to The Washington Post and published it in X.
Mr. Roe had long riled Mr. DeSantis with unsolicited headlines, including a New York Times story about a memo detailing the candidate’s debate strategy that was posted on his firm’s website before the first primary debate and later removed by The Times. He knew it. The campaign found the memo’s existence embarrassing.
Then, at the end of August, in a meeting with donors, Mr. Roe was secretly recorded, and Mr. DeSantis over the next 60 days Mr. He said he wanted to beat Trump.
The Trump campaign has latched onto the “60 days” concept in an often vicious daily email to Mr. Refers to Roe’s “Kiss of Death.” That 60-day period has passed, and Mr. DeSantis is still far behind.
Never Back Down was marred by infighting for weeks as senior staff left or were fired. Mr. DeSantis and his team were dissatisfied with the group’s activities, particularly its focus on television ads, and they signaled that they needed to do more substantial get-out-the-vote work.
Tensions reached a breaking point in November when another super PAC, Fight Right, was formed by a trio of DeSantis loyalists. The Never Back Down team paid the group $1 million, and soon after, initial chief executive Chris Jankowski resigned, followed by board chairman Adam Laxalt.
Mr. Jankowski’s replacement, identified as Christine Davison, was fired along with two other top officials.
Mr. DeSantis met with prospective donors for Fight Right, and his campaign manager wrote a memo that embraced the group as the preferred agency to do its political advertising. The new super PAC’s first ad attacked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and invoked past comments she’s made about Hillary Clinton — a campaign the campaign has featured prominently in its own anti-Haley material.
Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Despite running head-to-head against Trump, his campaign has floundered in recent months. Ms Haley has now tied or surpassed Mr DeSantis in several early state elections.
The continued drama at the super PAC has angered some campaign staffers, who see it as an unnecessary, constant distraction. The campaign itself was once the source of that drama, undergoing mass layoffs and seeing the rise of a campaign manager who had never worked on a campaign.