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No, Ron DeSantis isn’t going to this fundraiser, and it isn’t hosted by a man with ties to Trump and Europe’s far-right

By Lawrence Mower
Published: February 9, 2018
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis [AP]

Contrary to an invitation circulating online, gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis isn't going to a fundraiser hosted by a man who helps President Donald Trump connect with Europe's far-right politicians.

DeSantis' people are crediting an "over-eager supporter" with creating an invitation to the Feb. 23 fundraiser for the congressman at a restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach.

The hosts of the now-fictional event, according to the invite, are the National Committee of Asian American Republicans and a man named George Guido Lombardi, Trump's downstairs neighbor at Trump Tower who touts his friendship with the president and European far-right politicians.

Here's how The New York Times described Lombardi, who made his fortune in real estate, in a profile last year:

With a deep suspicion of Islam, open borders and the European Union, Mr. Lombardi, 66, considers himself a bridge to Mr. Trump for his old friends and ideological allies in Europe, including Marine Le Pen of France, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and Beppe Grillo, the co-founder of Italy’s insurgent Five Star Movement — “the Trump of Italy,” as Mr. Lombardi calls him.

But DeSantis campaign spokesman Brad Herold said the event was made prematurely, and that DeSantis has to be in Washington that day.

"This isn't a campaign event," Herold said. "We know some of the people involved in this group, but this isn't an event that we've committed to."

He added, "Sometimes our supporters get a little over-eager. I would rather have supporters that are over-eager than are under-eager."

The invite was created by the executive director of the group of Asian Republicans, and he confirmed the invite was made prematurely.

Lombardi, reached by the Times/Herald, said he knows the head of the group but didn't know he had committed to an event.

“I know that we talked about it,” he said. “I didn’t know they put my name on it.”

But Lombardi, who said he doesn't always agree with politicians like Le Pen, said he's known DeSantis for years. And while he doesn't have anything to do with DeSantis' campaign, he supports his run for governor.

I know Ron and he’s a great guy, and I think he’s going to do a terrific job as governor,” Lombardi said.