The upheaval continues at the DeSantis Super PAC as another top official leaves

The super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his presidential campaign, which has seen a series of changes over the past month, underwent another shakeup this week when it fired its new chief executive officer who took office just nine days earlier, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Kristin Davison, who was named chief executive after serving as chief operating officer of the group, Never Back Down, was fired and replaced by Scott Wagner, a longtime friend of Mr. DeSantis who was also named chairman following the departure of another close DeSantis ally, Adam Laxalt. , who resigned from the role just a week ago.

Ms. Davison was not alone in being fired, according to people familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman for the group, Erin Perrine, was fired, they said, with the possibility of more departures.

The changes come as the primaries enter the intense final weeks before the first nominating contest, and while Mr. DeSantis was in Iowa celebrating the final stop on his 99-county tour of the state — an accomplishment made possible by the organizational muscle and money of his allied super PAC, which is suffering its third round of upheaval in recent weeks.

It was unclear who was behind the firing or why. Ms. Davison and Ms. Perrine did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Davison’s departure was first reported by Politico.

“Scott Wagner will now serve as chairman of the board and interim executive director of Never Back Down,” said Jess Szymanski, a spokeswoman for the group. “Never Back Down has the most organized, advanced caucus of anyone in the 2024 primary field, and we look forward to continuing that great work to help elect Governor DeSantis as the next President of the United States.”

The latest raid caps a turbulent period in the Never Back Down organization, which was founded earlier this year, long before Mr. DeSantis became a candidate for president, and sought to take on a number of functions traditionally performed by a campaign, such as building a field operation in several states.

Recently, senior officials of the group have participated in internal battles as close allies of Mr. DeSantis, based in Tallahassee, created a new outside group, Fight Right, to which Never Back Down was expected to transfer $1 million. The fact of that transfer, which was supposed to finance the attacks on the closest rival Mr. DeSantis in the presidential primary, Nikki Haley, another Never Back Down official, Ken Cuccinelli, called in an email to colleagues “extremely unacceptable.”

In the run-up to Thanksgiving, the group’s chief executive since its inception, Chris Jankowski, resigned, saying there were problems “far beyond” strategic differences. Five days later, Mr. Laxalt left, saying in a resignation letter that it was time to spend time with his family, having joined the group immediately after his own failed Nevada Senate campaign ended last year.

It is not clear if those events are related to the shootings, which happened shortly after.

Ms. Perrine and Ms. Davison work with the group’s chief strategist, Jeff Roe, at his company, Axiom Strategies. Mr. Roe held a number of early stage roles at Never Back Down with Axiom employees. Mr. Roe had a dispute with Mr. Wagner shortly before Fight Right was founded during one of the group’s meetings at its Atlanta offices, according to two people with knowledge of the events.

Meanwhile, a new super PAC, Fight Right, was welcomed by the DeSantis campaign. Mr. DeSantis and his wife are said to have been troubled by the Never Back Down ad for months. Although campaigns are prohibited from coordinating directly with super PACs, Mr. DeSantis’s campaign manager, James Uthmeier, wrote in a memo last Monday that Fight Right would provide “welcome air support” with television ads. The memo suggested that Never Back Down would focus on its “field operations and field play.”

“Fight Right’s mission could not have come at a better time,” Mr. Uthmeier wrote.

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