[WATCH] Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Announces Results of Investigation Into Defending the Republic, INC. and Sidney Powell
VIDEO: Commissioner Nikki Fried Announces Investigation, Subpoena, Complaint Against Defending The Republic, Inc.
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced the results of an investigation into Defending The Republic, Inc., conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the state’s regulator of charities. Defending The Republic is a Texas-based organization affiliated with Sidney Powell, a former attorney for former President Donald Trump, and established as a legal fund involved in conspiracies related to the 2020 presidential election.
Commissioner Fried was joined by Rick Kimsey, Director of the Division of Consumer Services, to announce an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida state law, including failure to comply with charity registration law, and obtaining contributions by means of deception, false pretense, misrepresentation, or false promise. This complaint was served this week following an investigation and issuance of a subpoena into the matter.
“Protecting Florida’s consumers from scams, fraud, and abuse is one of my top priorities – as Florida’s consumer protection agency, we have not hesitated to hold accountable those who defraud, deceive, and take advantage of charitable giving,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. Our department received a complaint that DefendingTheRepublic.org was breaking the law while soliciting contributions. Following an investigation and subpoena, we have served Defending The Republic, Inc. a Texas-based corporation affiliated with Sidney Powell, with an administrative complaint for multiple violations of state law. Defending The Republic has a choice to make – they can come into compliance with the law, or face large fines and court orders. No matter who you are, whether big or small, whether a bad actor, a scammer, or a former lawyer for a former president, the rules apply to you, and we will apply the law equally.”
VIDEO: A livestream of the press conference may be viewed here:
Background: Following a consumer complaint received in November 2020, the department’s Division of Consumer Services initiated an investigation into the organization for allegedly operating DefendingTheRepublic.org in violation of Chapter 496, Florida Statutes. Florida state law requires all charitable organizations operating in Florida or soliciting funds from Floridians to be registered with FDACS, to ensure transparency of financial records and allow consumers to make informed decisions on charitable contributions. In March 2021, the department issued a subpoena to DefendingTheRepublic.org’s domain host, the results of which indicated that Sidney Powell is affiliated with the website. On June 15, 2021, the department served Defending The Republic, Inc. with an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of state law. Defending The Republic, Inc. will have 21 days to come into compliance, negotiate a settlement, or face further legal action including a cease and desist order and a $15,000 administrative fine.
About the FDACS Division of Consumer Services: FDACS is Florida’s state consumer protection agency responsible for regulating charities and handling consumer complaints. FDACS handles more than 400,000 consumer complaints and inquiries, oversees more than 500,000 regulated devices, entities, and products like gas pumps and grocery scales, performs over 61,000 lab analyses on products like gasoline and brake fluid, performs nearly 9,000 fair ride inspections, and returned over $2.8 million to consumers through mediations with businesses.
FDACS has investigated and issued fines and orders in numerous high-profile consumer cases, including issuing a $345,000 fine for 171 alleged violations of the state’s telemarketing law, illegally spamming consumers to market auto warranties, joining 38 states and the federal government to shut down a massive charity scam that made over 1 billion calls to 67 million consumers, and investigating We Build The Wall, an illegally-operating charity allegedly enriching its founder, now indicted on wire fraud, money laundering, and federal tax charges.