DeSantis, Eyeing 2024, Seeks Alliances With the Trump-Backed Far Right | Big Indy News
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DeSantis, Eyeing 2024, Seeks Alliances With the Trump-Backed Far Right



PITTSBURGH — Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, widely seen as the Republican who poses the biggest threat to Donald J. Trump if they both run for president in 2024, is set to visit Pennsylvania and Ohio on Friday during a national tour with hard-right candidates that appears to be intended to elevate his standing and earn political capital with potential future leaders in battleground states.

As he aims to wrest control of the conservative movement, Mr. DeSantis is appearing with some of its highest-profile and most incendiary figures — midterm candidates who, unlike him, have relentlessly pushed the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen. His rallies on Friday for Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, and J.D. Vance, the party’s choice for Senate in Ohio, come five days after an event for Kari Lake, the G.O.P. pick for governor of Arizona, and Blake Masters, the nominee for Senate there.

The catch: All of these candidates identify with Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement and have his endorsement.

That leaves Mr. DeSantis walking a fine line as he tries to build alliances with Mr. Trump’s chosen 2022 candidates while simultaneously conveying the message that the Republican Party does not belong only to the former president.

Mr. DeSantis and his allies may see a political opening in Mr. Trump’s mounting legal problems. But at the same time, the former president is widely expected to embark on a third run for the White House, and the investigations surrounding him have prompted Republicans to circle wagons around their embattled leader, reaffirming his power over the party.

Supporters of Mr. DeSantis believe he can appeal to many Republicans as a figure who fights the same cultural battles as Mr. Trump but without the chaos and with the ability to win over some moderate voters beyond the party’s base.

A New York Times/Siena College poll last month found that Mr. DeSantis was the clear second choice among Republican voters, with Mr. Trump garnering 49 percent support in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary and the Florida governor earning 25 percent. No other Republican was in double digits.

On Tuesday, Florida Democrats will decide whether to nominate Representative Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner, to challenge Mr. DeSantis in November. Mr. DeSantis’s national profile has allowed him to raise more than $130 million in campaign cash, making him a formidable incumbent.

On Friday, Mr. DeSantis, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, will appear in Pittsburgh with Mr. Mastriano and then speak at an event outside Youngstown, Ohio, with Mr. Vance. On Sunday, he campaigned in Arizona with Ms. Lake and Mr. Masters, as well as in New Mexico with Mark Ronchetti, the Republican nominee for governor, and Representative Yvette Herrell.

In Arizona, Mr. DeSantis highlighted legislation he has signed in Florida, took jabs at President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress, and attacked the F.B.I.’s recent search of Mr. Trump’s home in Florida — though, as in his other recent remarks, he was careful to criticize investigators rather than defend the former president’s actions.

“They’re enforcing the law based on who they like and who they don’t like,” he said. “That is not a republic. Well, maybe it’s a banana republic when that happens.”

His appearances have been organized by Turning Point Action, a conservative youth group led by Charlie Kirk, 28, who is close to the Trump family and has been a leading purveyor of misinformation about topics including the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election and climate change.

Mr. Mastriano’s Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, began airing ads this week invoking the man accused of killing 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, after posting antisemitic vitriol on Gab. Mr. Mastriano distanced himself from Gab last month, saying he rejected “antisemitism in any form.”

Jewish Democratic leaders in Florida criticized Mr. DeSantis’s planned appearance with Mr. Mastriano in the same city as the Tree of Life synagogue.

How Times reporters cover politics.
We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

“When Ron DeSantis goes to Pennsylvania to campaign for Mastriano, what he’s doing is he’s encouraging all of the bigotry,” said Rabbi Mark Winer, the president of the Florida Democratic Party Jewish Caucus. “He fertilizes the soil in which those seeds of ugliness in America’s soul germinate and come to full blossom.”

Mr. Mastriano, for his part, said that his goal was to “make Pennsylvania the Florida of the North,” adding that Mr. DeSantis had “set the gold standard for the good a governor can do leading a state.”

In Ohio, the DeSantis rally is in the congressional district of Representative Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for Senate, whose emphasis on his independence from Mr. Biden and on his support for blue-collar voters is giving Mr. Vance an unexpectedly close challenge in a state that has tilted reliably red in recent years.

Republicans’ worries about the race were confirmed on Thursday when a super PAC tied to Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said it was reserving $28 million in TV and radio ads to help Mr. Vance, an enormous increase over earlier Republican commitments to the contest.

In Florida, Mr. DeSantis has governed the state as a laboratory for right-wing policy, acting more and more like someone vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 than like the leader of a red-tinged but still fairly evenly divided battleground. While he campaigns to the Trump-loving G.O.P. base as a pugilist fighting “woke” liberals, he has been careful so far in televised ads for his re-election campaign this fall to strike a somewhat different tone.

Most of his ads do not include a message from Mr. DeSantis himself; rather, they feature people praising his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and voice-over readings of thank-you letters his office has received from happy constituents. That message appears geared at holding on to support from independents who are crucial to winning Florida’s still-close statewide elections.

Mr. DeSantis has avoided repeating false claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential contest, preferring to focus on the election laws he has pushed in Florida, including the creation of an office of election crimes and security. On Thursday, he announced that 17 people had been charged with casting illegal ballots in 2020 — an election in which 11.1 million Floridians voted.

At a news conference in June, Mr. DeSantis dismissed a question about whether the 2020 election was rigged.

“I’ve been asked that a hundred different times,” he said. “Anyone have a question on the topic of the day?”

He went on to criticize the Jan. 6 hearings, though he condemned the riot shortly after it happened in 2021.

Some of Mr. DeSantis’s cultural offensives have met legal resistance: On Thursday, a federal judge blocked a key part of one of the governor’s signature laws, known as the Stop WOKE Act, which bans discussions of race that make people uncomfortable in schools and corporations.

“DeSantis has just gone from being awesome to being unbelievably good,” Mr. Jones said, calling him “way better” than Mr. Trump.

Trip Gabriel reported from Pittsburgh, and Patricia Mazzei from Miami.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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