Moms for Liberty’s Descovich hit with ethics complaint as she awaits confirmation to ethics commission

Tina Descovicy and Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at Moms for Liberty’s June 2023 summit in Philadelphia.

By Dan Christensen,

Florida Ethics Commissioner Tina Descovich, co-founder of the controversial political group Moms for Liberty, awaits a confirmation vote before the Florida Senate this week, even as a newly filed ethics complaint could well lead to her ouster.

If so, it would mark the second time in less than a year that Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed someone to Florida’s constitutionally established Commission on Ethics who was forced out for an ethical violation.

Descovich appeared for a hearing before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee last Monday.

“The work that I do with the organization that I founded, and as the executive director, is independent and separate from the role on the ethics commission,” Descovich said. “I can promise you this: I will be just. I will be fair. I will work with my teammates on the commission.”

She came away with the Republican-dominated committee’s endorsement. But all three Democrats on the nine person committee voted no.

Rep. Tina Scott Polsky, D-Boca Raton

Rep. Tina Scott Polsky, D-Boca Raton, called out Descovich for her “very public, personal biases” and Moms for Liberty “as political, as divisive and they have wormed their way into the top echelons of this government.”


The 15-page ethics complaint, sent by Melbourne resident Robert Burns, was obtained from a Senate source by Florida Bulldog and asserts several allegations that it contends are disqualifying. The simplest, however, is referenced in the opening paragraph of the Commission on Ethics Statement of Organization and Operation: “Members are prohibited from lobbying state and local governments.”

Descovich, an Indiatlantic resident who was a member of the Brevard County School Board from 2016 to 2020, isn’t registered to lobby in Tallahassee, or apparently anywhere else. But she’s nonetheless been a publicly outspoken advocate pushing a variety of conservative public policy positions on polarizing matters with Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislators.

Burns runs The Space Coast Rocket, a news site based in Melbourne. He’s also worked as a political consultant who has managed campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats.

Burns’s complaint includes examples: In 2020, she advocated against COVID-19 health safety measures notably vaccine and mask requirements, as a matter of parental choice. Descovich and Moms for Liberty have also been active in efforts to ban books from school libraries as inappropriate based on content objections, and she challenged school curricula after complaining about educational content involving critical race theory and LGBT rights.

Under the Joint Rules of the Florida Legislature, lobbying “means influencing or attempting to influence legislative action or nonaction through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a member or employee of the Legislature.”

Descovich complaint
Robert Burns

But under Florida’s uniquely odd definition, “’lobbyist’ means a person who is employed and receives payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the purpose of lobbying or a person who is principally employed for governmental affairs by another person or governmental entity to lobby on behalf of that other person or governmental entity.”


Moms for Liberty paid executive director Descovich a salary of $50,000, plus $6,000 in benefits for which she worked a full 40 hours a week in 2022, according to the group’s federal tax filing submitted in November 2023. That was more than an elevenfold increase in compensation from the prior year.

Burns, of the Space Coast Rocket, noted in his complaint that the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act defines a lobbyist as “someone making more than one lobbying contact and spending more than 20 percent of their time on lobbying activities.”

Moms for Liberty’s total revenues grew nearly sixfold year-over-year, to $2.14 million, according to its 2022 federal tax filing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights group that promotes racial justice, has labeled Moms for liberty a far-right, anti-government organization with “close political alliances and ties to extremist groups to broaden its reach and spread its messages of anti-inclusion and hate.”

“They also use their multiple social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, advocate for the abolition of the [U.S.] Department of Education, advance conspiracy propaganda, and spread hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community,” an SPLC report says.

Nevertheless, Moms for Liberty has experienced explosive growth since it was formed in 2021 in Brevard County as a federal nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. Today, the group boasts more than 120,000 members and chapters in 48 states.


Gov. DeSantis has embraced the group. In July 2022 he attended a Moms for Liberty summit in Tampa where Descovich and other moms presented a smiling DeSantis with their blue “Liberty Sword.”

The goodwill carried over in September 2023 when DeSantis appointed Descovich to a two-year term on the ethics commission, replacing Glenton “Glen” Gilzean Jr. Her position, however, requires Senate confirmation.

Glenton “Glen” Gilzean Jr. Photo collage: Inside the Magic

Ethics commission chairman Gilzean quit a week after Florida Bulldog disclosed his conflict-of-interest by holding public employment as the $400,000-a-year administrator of the Central Florida special district that the Legislature and DeSantis removed from the control of the Walt Disney Company. The move was punishment for Disney’s public opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.

The commission’s principal duty is to investigate complaints alleging breach of the public trust by public officers and state employees, particularly as they relate to possible violations of the state’s Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.

Like Descovich, Gilzean ran afoul of the opening paragraph of the Commission on Ethics’ Statement of Organization and Operation which includes this fundamental rule: “No member may hold any public employment.”

DeSantis appointed and the Legislature confirmed Gilzean to the ethics commission three times, most recently in August 2022 even though he was ineligible due to term limitations. While serving as a commissioner in May 2023, Gilzean snagged the lucrative job of administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District – the new name for Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. He got the job from a board of directors handpicked by DeSantis.


Burns’s complaint raised questions about Descovich’s ability as a commission member to help political allies who get in trouble, specifically citing the pending ethics case against extremist Republican State Rep. Randy Fine. In April 2023 the commission previously found probable cause to believe Fine abused his position by threatening West Melbourne city’s funding for the Special Olympics.

Rep. Randy Fine, R-South Brevard County

At last week’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Polsky asked Descovich about her relationship with Fine. Burns noted that she responded under oath that she became friends with him in 2016 when they were both running for office, and saw no reason to recuse herself from his case.

“What she didn’t disclose, however, is that Fine has given thousands of dollars directly to her organization, advocated for others to do so, and has participated in many press conferences and meetings on behalf of Moms for Liberty. He has advocated for Moms for Liberty in lawsuits against Brevard Public Schools and fundraised for those lawsuits,” Burns wrote in his ethics complaint. “These omissions, either intentional or by simply forgetting, illustrate the lack of judgment by Mrs. Descovich, the conflict of her holding this position, and the potential abuse and/or perception of it, in an actual case currently being decided. It is without question that she would need to recuse herself from this case as she has benefitted personally from the documented financial support of Randy Fine who contributes to the funds of which she is paid.”

Burns states that Descovich and Fine also have a more personal connection. “Fine’s casino business partner and Legislative Aide, Joe Howard, currently resides with Ms. Descovich’s sister, Jennifer Dunn, just a few miles from her home. To say that Ms. Descovich downplayed her relationship to Randy Fine while under oath before the Florida Senate is an understatement at best.”

Fine is a former casino executive and managing director of the Las Vegas-based Fine Point Group, a consulting and management company specializing in online casinos. His Linked In profile also states he is on the board of Ontario, Canada-based Tangam Gaming.

Burns’s complaint contains supporting screenshots of Fine’s touting Moms for Liberty and its policies in 2021 and 2022, and a page from the Florida Division of Elections list of expenditures to Moms for Liberty that show he contributed $2,000 to the group on June 8, 2021.

The address Fine listed was 981 Eau Gallie Blvd. Ste E Box 13123, Melbourne. Four contributions to Moms for Liberty used the same address, a mailbox drop at a Wrap and Pack Plus. The same box was also used to donate to Moms for Liberty by Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island ($1,000); Rep. Gerry James, R-St. Johns County ($100), and the political action committee Conservatives for Good Government ($2,000).

Conservatives for Good Government is run by State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne. Mayfield is a member of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and voted last Monday to recommend Descovich for confirmation to the full Senate.

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