ORLANDO, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended his first public event since officially launching his 2024 presidential bid, as a new controversy reportedly involving fundraising swirls around his campaign.

The governor on Friday weighed in on several issues while delivering a speech at the Florida Homeschool Convention in Orlando.

“We want parents to be armed with the ability to make sure their kids are in a safe environment,” he said.

DeSantis doubled down on Florida’s gender studies ban, his case against Disney and support for parents’ rights.

“We stand for parents’ rights in education, elimination of gender ideology, because it’s the right thing to do,” he said, “and if that means we have to stand up to a major company like Disney, well, here I stand. I’m not backing down.”

DeSantis also addressed a controversy in a Miami Lakes school, at the Bob Graham Education Center Library.

“The Hill We Climb,” a poem that was recited by author Amanda Gorman at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021 and went on to receive national praise, was removed from the elementary library after a complaint from just one parent.

The complaint stated that the poem by Gorman, the country’s youngest poet laureate, would “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.”

“This is some book of poems. I never heard of it. I had nothing to do with any of this,” said DeSantis.

Other books, including “The ABCs of Black History,” have been pulled in the wake of the governor’s highly touted Parental Rights In Education law.

DeSantis is also grappling with a new report from NBC News stating that officials who work for the governor in Tallahassee have been sending text messages to Florida lobbyists seeking political donations for the governor’s presidential bid. It’s a move that could raise serious ethical and legal complications.

NBC claims to have reviewed text messages from four DeSantis administration officials in prominent positions, seeking donations through a link.

As of Friday evening, the governor’s office has not commented on the matter, but Democratic officials have done so.

Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, was addressing state immigration issues on Friday from the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami when she addressed the controversy.

“Official government employees threatening lobbyists that he is going to veto their budget priorities if they don’t give additional campaign contributions to his presidential [campaign],” she said. “This is illegal, this is corruption, this is extortion, and hopefully the rest of America starts to understand who Ron DeSantis really is.”

DeSantis is about to take his presidential pitch on the road. After Memorial Day, he is scheduled to head to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to meet with prospective voters.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox