Tina Descovich, a co-founder of the Florida-based, self-appointed “parental rights” group Moms for Liberty, has been appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the state independent Commission on Ethics, where she has been serving since September.
The state Senate will most likely approve her appointment after the legislative session begins on Jan. 8.
According to the ethics commission’s charge, it is authorized “to investigate complaints concerning breaches of public trust by public officers and employees other than judges.” Punishment includes monetary fines and termination.
The appointment of Descovich to the ethics commission evokes the classic analogy of the fox watching over the henhouse, raising questions about the impartiality and effectiveness of the commission’s oversight.
Moms for Liberty, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has named an antigovernment extremist organization, has focused mostly on banning books and censoring school curricula, particularly materials surrounding people who are Black, Brown or LGBTQ+.
The SPLC’s Extremist File states that “Moms for Liberty and its nationwide chapters combat what they consider the ‘woke indoctrination’ of children by advocating for book bans in school libraries and endorsing candidates for public office that align with the group’s views. They also use their multiple social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, advocate for the abolition of the Department of Education, advance a conspiracy propaganda, and spread hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.”
That’s why Descovich cannot be trusted to impartially rule on purported ethics violations.
What’s more, Bridget Ziegler, a Moms for Liberty co-founder and her husband, a top GOP operative, are caught up in a growing sex scandal. Bridget Ziegler – whom DeSantis appointed in early 2023 to a new oversight board of the Disney tax district – and her husband, Christian – who was the chair of the Florida Republican Party until he was suspended last month – were publicly shamed after news broke that the couple engaged together in consensual sex with another woman, whom he was later accused of raping, according to police.
The woman accused Christian Ziegler of sexually assaulting her after she refused to have sex with him again without his wife. In a new allegation, Sarasota police say Ziegler violated the state’s video voyeurism law by videotaping the encounter without the woman’s knowledge. Bridget Ziegler, who is no longer with Moms for Liberty, has refused to step down from her positions on the Sarasota school board and the Disney oversight board despite being called a hypocrite during an angry public school board meeting where residents demanded she resign.
Since last fall, the media reported on Moms for Liberty’s waning influence after the group’s chosen candidates lost school board elections, and the recent sex scandal has not helped the group’s image.
But, as SPLC Florida Policy Director Jonathan Webber noted, “The real movement behind Moms for Liberty’s marketing façade is still robustly funded and defended. The ideology behind MFL is alive and well in Florida government and politics. That’s why our work is more important now than ever.”
In light of these revelations and the prevailing political climate, the Florida Senate should not approve the appointment of Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich to the state Commission on Ethics.
Photo at top: Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich speaks during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)