The old law firm of Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has received millions in state funds during his tenure, according to a new investigation.
The Daily Beast reported that two law firms, Holland & Knight and Holtzman Vogel, received millions of dollars in state business in recent years from DeSantis’s administration.
According to data the Beast reviewed, Holland & Knight – where DeSantis previously worked as a civil litigator before his 2012 congressional campaign – pocketed “only $2,750 in contracts with the state of Florida” up until 2018.
However, from 2018 to 2020, the law firm made nearly $3m from representing the state in various lawsuits, including on mail-in voter restrictions, foster-home care inadequacies and a major case on felons’ voting rights.
All the work was reportedly assigned to one lawyer from the firm, George Meros, who counseled the Florida state government as an outside adviser.
Meros’s son, Nick Meros, is currently DeSantis’s deputy general counsel.
In August 2020, George Meros left the firm. Since then, it has not signed any new contracts with state agencies, according to state data reviewed by the outlet.
That year, Meros became the center of a public records lawsuit after he allegedly pressured his law firm into dropping a case from its client, the Miami Herald, asking the state to hand over Covid-19 data on its senior care facilities.
In the past year, Holtzman Vogel also received an uptick in contracts from state agencies, with the Daily Beast reporting that it has done more than $4m in business with the Florida government. The firm, which represented Donald Trump in his 2020 election lawsuits, had previously not received any contracts from state agencies, according to state data.
According to state records reviewed by the Daily Beast, the firm’s first contracts in October 2021 were worth $550,000 and $2.2m, both dealing with “two controversial election laws”.
In September, DeSantis appointed partners from both Holland & Knight and Holtzman Vogel to the first district court of appeals judicial nominating commission.