Key political player found dead amid investigation rubbed elbows, gave money to top GOP figures like Gov. DeSantis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM is looking into the political contributions of businessman and GOP donor Kent Stermon who died in an apparent suicide in Atlantic Beach last week.

Following Stermon’s death, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Stermon had been the subject of an “active investigation” which multiple sources told News4JAX involved alleged sexual misconduct.

Campaign finance records show that Stermon, his wife and his company were big players in politics. Stermon’s company Total Military Management has given more than $400,000 to candidates at the state, local, and national levels.

Among them is current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The contributions to Gov. DeSantis and his political committee alone add up to $68,000.

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A photo from 2019 posted by former State Senator Rob Bradley is an example of Stermon’s potential influence in the GOP. The photo shows him with Gov. Desantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Stermon, his wife, and his company have also given to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, former Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and current Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters, among other state and local and national political figures like Republicans John Rutherford, Michael Waltz and failed senate candidate Herschel Walker.

For example, Stermon and his wife contributed $37,000 to Citizens for John Rutherford, records show.

News4JAX also noticed campaign contributions to lawmakers who sit on the House Armed Services Committee. Stermon’s company handles household moves for members of the military.

The national press is taking notice of Stermon’s death and the ongoing investigation in part because DeSantis is a potential contender for president in 2024.

In 2018, Politico reported that while serving in Congress, Gov. DeSantis lived in a Flagler County condo co-owned by Stermon when redistricting drew him out of his seat.

So, does any of this affect a potential DeSantis presidential campaign?

“I think in terms of the Republican primary it depends on the appetite of individuals he’s going to be running against. Are they going to want to take the gloves off?” said Daniel Cronrath, FSCJ political science professor.

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One of those potential opponents is former President Donald Trump.

While Stermon was seen in a 2019 photo posing with Ivanka Trump, Stermon’s strong ties are to DeSantis.

“Perhaps the 800-pound gorilla hanging out there is what will former President Trump do with this information? We know that both of them will be looking to run for office. We know that President Trump has already started to throw shade at DeSantis,” Cronarath said.

So far, all we’ve really heard from Gov. DeSantis about Stermon is his offering of condolences for a friend which Cronrath said is wise, unless more comes out in the future.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.