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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Never Back Down Inc.

Political leanings: Republican/Pro-Ron DeSantis

2022 total spending: N/A

Never Back Down Inc. was established in February by Ken Cuccinelli, a former senior Trump administration official, to encourage Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president. Once DeSantis declared his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, the super PAC said its “main goal and sole focus” would be getting DeSantis elected.

Never Back Down is one of many political committees managed by longtime PAC treasurer Cabell Hobbs. Jeff Roe, a Republican political consultant known for running Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, serves as the committee’s chief strategist.

As a super PAC, officially known as an independent expenditure-only committee, Never Back Down advocates the election or defeat of federal candidates without coordinating with candidates, campaigns or political parties. It can accept unlimited contributions, but it must disclose its donors.

As of June 30, Never Back Down had raised over $130.5 million. That includes $82.5 million from DeSantis’ state political committee Empower Parents PAC — a transfer that the nonpartisan election watchdog Campaign Legal Center says violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. The FEC has not yet ruled on the center’s complaint, which was filed in May.

That complaint is one of four the Campaign Legal Center has filed with the FEC regarding the activities of DeSantis and Never Back Down. Most recently, CLC filed a complaint on Dec. 18, alleging that the DeSantis campaign “illegally coordinated” with Never Back Down “by directly or indirectly providing requests, suggestions, and guidance regarding the super PAC’s messaging in support of his candidacy.” Never Back Down officials and DeSantis denied the allegations.

Other major donors to the super PAC include Robert Bigelow and Faithful & Strong Policies Inc. Bigelow, a real estate tycoon, donated over $20 million, but has since criticized the DeSantis campaign and said he may switch to supporting former President Donald Trump. Faithful & Strong Policies Inc. is a conservative nonprofit that contributed $5.5 million and is connected to Scott Wagner, the super PAC’s new chairman and interim CEO.

Wagner, a co-chair of DeSantis’ 2022 gubernatorial transition team, assumed his new positions with Never Back Down in early December, after several of its top officials resigned or were fired. The administrative changes were made in response to the creation of Fight Right Inc., a new pro-DeSantis super PAC that will be responsible for television advertising while Never Back Down reportedly focuses on field organizing.

As of Jan. 4, Never Back Down had spent nearly $37 million on independent expenditures supporting DeSantis’ presidential candidacy, according to FEC records reviewed by OpenSecrets. More than $31.7 million went to explicitly advocating for the Florida governor, while the other $5.1 million was dedicated to ads opposing Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. About $4.6 million was spent against Haley and over $450,000 against Trump.

FactChecking Never Back Down Inc.:

Dueling Ads: Trump and DeSantis on Social Security and Medicare,” April 20