Associated Press Sends Letter Asking DeSantis to Stop ‘Harassing Behavior’ from Spox Over Article

Ron DeSantis

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The Associated Press sent a letter to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asking him to stop “harassing behavior” from his spokesperson over an article this week.

With covid cases continuing to surge in Florida, DeSantis has been announcing multiple Regeneron monoclonal antibody sites where people with covid can go for treatment. On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that the company of a top DeSantis donor has invested in Regeneron.

Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc., according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.

It’s not unusual for hedge funds to have a wide range of investments. And BlackRock, which has primarily donated to Democratic candidates, though has also donated substantially to Republicans, has a large holding in the company – more so than Citadel.

The AP quotes DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw as saying, “Claiming that there is somehow ‘corruption’ by promoting the baseless political narrative that Governor DeSantis supports Regeneron over COVID vaccines (completely false, but that is another topic) is not even logically consistent when you examine the SEC filing… Citadel holds far more shares of Pfizer and Moderna than Regeneron.”

The report itself notes that “Citadel’s investment in Regeneron is a tiny fraction of its overall $39 billion in investments,” and says that President Joe Biden himself supports the treatments. Pushaw decried the story and unleashed on AP reporter Brendan Farrington over the headline “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes,” calling it “cheap political innuendo.”

In a blaze of tweets that evening, continuing until 3 am ET and throughout the day, she accused Farrington of elevating “BlueAnon propaganda,” called out his boss on Twitter, brought up how the Biden administration has encouraged those treatments, and — in since-deleted tweets — said, “Fix your conspiracy BS or I will put you on blast” and “Drag them.” (This is only a sampling of the many tweets Pushaw has posted since Wednesday.)

Farrington tweeted that he was getting death threats before making his account private.

On Wednesday DeSantis alluded to the piece as he decried “people trying to push political agendas” surrounding the treatments.

On Friday Associated Press executive VP and chief operating officer Daisy Veerasingham — recently announced as the next AP president and CEO — sent a letter to the governor calling out “the actions of your press secretary this week that were both dangerous and in conflict with the spirit of Florida’s constitutional protections for freedom of speech and of the press.”

“Using her Twitter account, Christina Pushaw threatened a journalist, retweeted other threats against that journalist and issued a call to action against The Associated Press. This is unacceptable behavior from a government employee,” Veerasingham writes. “This type of harassing behavior can cause great harm.”

The letter takes particular note of the since-deleted “drag them” tweet. According to the AP’s own report on the letter, “Pushaw said she did not mean her ‘drag them’ comment to be taken as a threat, and she deleted it because she realized not everyone would know what it means.”

Pushaw responded to the letter saying no one deserves death threats, and accusing the AP headline of “threaten[ing] public health and safety.”

UPDATE: Pushaw has reportedly been suspended from Twitter for 12 hours.

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under:

Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac