Kent Stermon, a prominent northeast Florida political figure, donor and friend of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, died of apparent suicide in his truck on Thursday evening in Jacksonville amid an investigation into sexual misconduct, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's office said foul play is not suspected. Stermon was 50 years old and had just been released from the hospital after a stroke.
He was under "active" investigation at the time of his death, and police said that investigation would continue.
Sheriff T.K. Waters said,
Mr. Stermon was the subject of an active investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which began a few weeks prior to his death. This investigation remains ongoing at this time and will continue until its completion. As with all active investigations, there is limited information available to release at this time. However, as soon as this investigation has been completed, all applicable information will be available for release to the public.
“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,” a DeSantis spokesperson said.
Stermon was the president of Total Military Management, a defense contracting company in the Jacksonville area. He had made a $50,000 donation to a group that supports DeSantis, and donated over $140,000 to political causes and candidates, the Washington Examiner reported.
He was on DeSantis's transition team when he was elected governor in 2018, and DeSantis also rented a condo partly owned by Stermon when he was in Congress.
Stermon also served on the host committee for the 2020 Republican convention in Jacksonville.
DeSantis appointed him to the Board of Governors for state-run colleges and universities in 2019. and the sheriff's office named him Citizen of the Year in 2015.
The board said in a statement:
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Governor Kent. 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."
Stenton served as chairman of the audit committee.
He was also a friend to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who said in a statement, “My heartfelt condolences to Kent Stermon’s family during this difficult time. I cannot imagine their pain and heartbreak. My thoughts and prayers are with them.”
He was married and had children, according to Action News Jacksonville.