Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) was first sworn into office on Jan. 3, 2021, representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District. He won in 2020 with Trump’s endorsement and won a second term in 2022 with another endorsement from the former president. During his first campaign, Trump called him a “Rising Star,” but the candidate was accused of covering up past criminal charges, which included possession of marijuana and bribery, and led to an investigation by the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Previously, Donalds was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2016–20. Before entering politics, he worked at several banks and financial institutions in Florida, including TIB Bank, CMG Life Services, and most recently, as an associate vice president of investments for Moran Wealth.
After the 2020 presidential election, Donalds showed his loyalty to Trump by helping to spread the Big Lie, refusing to certify the Electoral College results, and voting against impeachment as well as establishing a special House committee to investigate the insurrection, among other measures. In voting against H.R. 1 (the For the People Act), he testified on the House floor that the proposed voter protection legislation would amount to a federal takeover of Florida’s election laws, which he called “the very best” in America.
January 6, 2021
- Just hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Donalds joined 146 other congressional Republicans in refusing to certify Biden’s win of the 2020 presidential election.
- He attended several D.C. rallies prior to the riot on Jan. 6 and was pictured in the background of a Facebook photo posted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, the far-right activist.
- Donalds voted against establishing a House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.
- He also rejected impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection, stating, “This second impeachment trial has largely been a waste of time. I think it’s been mostly political.”
- In January 2022, Donalds reflected on the insurrection of the previous year and criticized Democrats by saying, “If you’re going to use a tragedy to push your political agenda, that’s when I get off the bus. I just think it’s inappropriate.”
The Big Lie
- On Dec. 15, 2020, Donalds and 25 other House members-elect signed a letter calling on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to investigate irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.
- In a local television interview on Jan. 6, 2021, Donalds defended the legal challenges to the election results waged by Trump supporters, saying, “What happened in many of these courts and cases is the evidence was never heard. The cases were kicked out on procedural grounds.”
- In May 2021 article in the New York Times, Donalds defended his decision not to certify the 2020 Electoral College results by saying, “I think what happened is that in several key counties and key states, election law was not followed. That’s clear. It’s crystal clear. You have a federal judge in Michigan that said as much.”
- In May 2021, Donalds attended an “Action Session” hosted by the secretive Christian Right group Council for National Policy and facilitated by Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state and a member of Trump’s failed voter fraud panel. The topic of the session was how to combat the national voting rights efforts led by Democrats.