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Group sponsoring Ron DeSantis appearance in Tampa denounced for associations with the Koch Brothers

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Hours before he was scheduled to speak about military issues at an event at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on Friday night, the Democratic opposition group American Bridge 21st Century, is blasting the group sponsoring the event featuring GOP U.S. Senate candidate Ron DeSantis.

The event is being produced by the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), a veterans group that has been funded by the Koch Brothers.

“This propped-up veterans group by the Kochs isn’t fooling anyone. Never would a legitimate veterans’ group advocate for the privatization of the VA system or call for current military retirement plans to be handed over to Wall Street,” said Eddie Vale, the Vice President of American Bridge 21st Century. “CVA only cares about representing the interests of its patrons: Charles and David Koch.”

In their statement, American Bridge lists links totaling $30,000 to DeSantis’ campaigns and/or his super PAC.

“Concerned Veterans for America is a nationwide veterans organization composed of thousands of veterans who are staff and volunteers – including many who served in combat,” said Diego A. Echeverri, State Director, Florida with Concerned Veterans for America. “From coast to coast, our organization is fighting to reform a broken VA health care system, eliminate waste at the Department of Defense, and stop reckless federal spending which threatens the national well-being our troops fought to defend. It is sad there are organizations that want to smear us and other veterans, including Rep. DeSantis, a veteran of the Iraq War, for proposing meaningful reforms to fix the VA. These groups are clearly more interested in making political attacks than solving problems.”

DeSantis is the Ponte Vedra Beach two-term Representative running for the senate this year. He served in the Navy as a military prosecutor and supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was later deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.  He is one of five major Republicans running for the opportunity to replace Marco Rubio in the senate this November.

Officials with his senate campaign declined to comment.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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