Ron DeSantis scrapped two Hamptons fundraisers last weekend due to a lack of interest — while rival Donald Trump and upstart candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. raked in massive piles of cash, sources told On The Money.
The tale of the three fundraisers shows DeSantis’ hopes for snaring the Republican nomination are quickly fading as Trump dominates the GOP field and RFK Jr. gains momentum.
“This weekend broke DeSantis’ campaign,” one political fundraiser said.
“I don’t know anyone who went,” added longtime GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren. “George Santos could’ve pulled off a better fundraising swing in the Hamptons than Ron DeSantis did this past weekend.”
As On The Money previously reported, DeSantis had cut in half — from $6,600 per person to $3,300 — the price to attend the July 20 fundraiser in Southampton.
But despite being discounted and heavily promoted — and with New York Republican groups sending email blasts the day before the event — attendance was underwhelming, a source with knowledge of the campaign told On The Money.
One source blamed Chele Farley, a failed congressional candidate, who promoted herself as the point person behind DeSantis’ cocktail reception.
“She cheapened the event by sending it out to everyone on her email list … she scared people away,” a top donor told On The Money. “Donors don’t want to show up to a cocktail reception that’s been advertised to tens of thousands of people.”
Big-money backers like Ken Griffin and Stephen Schwarzman stayed away altogether.
Worse yet, the campaign canceled plans for two other events because “they couldn’t find hosts,” a source with knowledge told On The Money.
“The DeSantis experiment is dead,” one source said. “Donors aren’t coming to his events because they don’t see any return on investment.”
DeSantis’ campaign did not reveal how much the Florida governor’s foray into the Empire State raised.
Reps for DeSantis did not return On The Money’s request for comment.
While DeSantis struggled to find an audience, Democratic presidential hopeful RFK Jr. was the buzz of the East End — mainly from Republicans hoping to boost his long-shot chances of beating Joe Biden in the primaries.
His fundraiser in Sag Harbor, hosted by investment banker Omeed Malik at the swanky restaurant Bilboquet, reached its max of 30 attendees several weeks before the event. The campaign decided to add another event in Southampton for earlier that day to meet the overwhelming demand.
All attendees gave the maximum amount of $6,600 an individual can donate to a presidential campaign, helping RFK Jr. score his largest single-day haul.
The dinner conversation centered around foreign policy, cryptocurrency, and RFK Jr.’s congressional testimony last week. In the days following his testimony, Kennedy raised $5 million from several donors, On The Money has learned.
A source added that RFK Jr. is already planning another fundraiser in New York next week on the heels of his Hamptons success.
Trump, meanwhile, steered clear of his native state, but raked in some serious cash in a small town in North Carolina over the weekend. According to multiple sources, the former president raised more than $2 million.
Trump’s event was hosted by his joint fundraising committee rather than his campaign. While donors can’t give more than $6,600 to a candidate, they can donate far more to the candidate’s PAC.
The continued support for the former president, who is running away in the polls, doesn’t bode well for DeSantis’ once-promising run for the Oval Office.
“They’re starting to look at other places,” Wren said. “Some are looking at [South Carolina Sen.] Tim Scott, some are turning to RFK Jr. and some in the GOP are coming home to Trump.”