TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Kent Stermon, a prominent Jacksonville-area Republican donor and friend of Gov. Ron DeSantis found dead in his car Thursday night, was under “active investigation” by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“This investigation remains ongoing at this time and will continue until its completion,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters told POLITICO.
Waters said that because the investigation remains active, there is “limited information available to release at this time.” The Florida Times-Union reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources, that authorities were examining allegations of sexual misconduct.
Stermon was president of Jacksonville-area defense contractor Total Military Management. Since 2017, he had given $140,000 in state political contributions, of which $50,000 went to a political committee aligned with DeSantis.
Stermon’s abrupt death sent shock waves through Florida’s political world, especially Republican circles where Stermon was known as a Republican donor and close DeSantis ally. While in serving in Congress, DeSantis lived in a Flagler County condo co-owned by Stermon when redistricting drew him out of his seat, DeSantis made him a member of his transition team, and DeSantis appointed him to the Board of Governors over the state university system in 2019.
“The Governor and First Lady were shocked and saddened to hear of Kent’s passing, and their prayers (and our entire office’s prayers) are with his family during this difficult time,” the governor’s office said Friday. A spokesperson for the governor said “we have no knowledge” of the investigation.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Governor Kent Stermon,” Board of Governors officials said in a statement. “For the last three years, Kent has served on this board with distinction. He has been a champion of higher education and student success in Florida and a long-time supporter of the University of North Florida in many ways throughout the years. The Board of Governors sends its heartfelt condolences to Kent’s family during this difficult time.”