A man called Kent Stermon, 50, who happened to be one of Gov. Ron DeSantis' top donors in the Sunshine State, was found deceased in his vehicle Thursday evening.
According to the Washington Examiner, authorities don't suspect foul play. Stermon reportedly died from what authorities believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to authorities and local media outlets, Stermon was the subject of an "active" investigation. The extent of the investigation isn't known, although local media reports point to the strong possibility that the case involved sexual misconduct allegations.
Stermon had also suffered various health issues, including a stroke.
Local businessman and political operative Kent Stermon was found dead last night, as an apparent victim of a self inflicted gunshot wound. pic.twitter.com/uVPektthQr
— Folio Weekly (@folioweekly) December 9, 2022
The Examiner noted of Stermon's connections with DeSantis: "Stermon served as the president of Total Military Management, a defense contracting company in the Jacksonville area, and had made at least $140,000 worth of political donations, including $50,000 to a group that favors DeSantis, according to financial disclosures."
The Florida donor was also tapped for DeSantis' transition team after his first gubernatorial election win in 2018. Stermon would later be selected by DeSantis "to serve on the board of governors for Florida's state university system."
.@JSOPIO statement on death of Kent Stermon, a Jacksonville area defense contractor known as a longtime @GovRonDeSantis ally
He was under “active investigation” weeks before his abrupt death pic.twitter.com/PXEkbil64F
— Matt Dixon (@Mdixon55) December 9, 2022
Notably, DeSantis had rented a home that Stermon partially owned. That was before Stermon's many appointments by the Florida governor.
Social media users were quick to try and connect dots between Stermon's investigation and the Republican Florida governor. Because, of course, they would do that.
Politically well connected mega-donor and businessman Kent Stermon was under investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in the weeks before his suicide over allegations of sexual misconduct,
" you wouldn't have Ron DeSantis as governor without Kent Stermon." https://t.co/3YYniIXHm7
— NFL = WWE (@eomrules) December 10, 2022
For his part, a spokesperson released a statement on Stermon's passing.
"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 statement read.
"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," Florida's Board of Governors wrote in a statement addressing Stermon's passing, according to Politico.