Updated Aug 18, 2023, 3:09pm EDT

DeSantis Super PAC defends its debate document dump

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The Scoop

A top official at Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis Super PAC, defended its decision to publicly post a massive trove of polling, opposition research, and debate tips that has become a potential headache for the candidate this week after its discovery by the New York Times.

Ken Cuccinelli, the former Trump administration official who founded the PAC, told Semafor in an interview Friday that he did not feel that uploading the material to a political consultant’s website, where it was found, was a mistake.

“It’s an information dump, publicly, and the risk of doing that is you’re sharing it with everybody,” Cuccinelli said. “And we’re okay. You know, it’s not preferred, but we’re always going to stay legal.”

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Know More

It’s common for political campaigns and Super PACs to publicly post material for the other to use in order to avoid violating rules that prohibit them from directly coordinating. But Never Back Down’s decision to post the documents raised eyebrows both thanks to their breadth and detail, and because the move risked tipping off DeSantis’ opponents to how he might attack them.

They included a debate memo urging DeSantis to defend Donald Trump from attacks on stage next week while taking a “sledgehammer” to Vivek Ramaswamy, who is now polling at third place in the primary. They also contained extensive polling analysis, with numbers suggesting DeSantis is losing ground in New Hampshire. By Thursday night, the files had been deleted.

“You know, he has a history of being the decider,” Cuccinnelli said of DeSantis. “This isn’t a handled guy. So all we can do is lob material in that we hope helps them with whatever they’re doing. We don’t know what that is. I certainly stand by the information in there.”