The claim: Ron DeSantis and Anthony Fauci are in the diamond mining business together
A recent Facebook post claims Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Dr. Anthony Fauci are in business together.
The post includes what appears to be a screenshot of a Uniform Commercial Code-1 – or UCC-1 – form filed with the Florida Secretary of State. The form is typically used by creditors to establish potential rights to debtors' collateral. Fauci and DeSantis are listed as debtors on the form.
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But this claim is false.
Representatives for DeSantis and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where Fauci is director, said the claim is baseless. Legal experts say the UCC-1 filing referenced in the posts is not valid and was not filed by any of the "debtor parties" listed in it.
USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the claim for comment.
UCC-1 form shown in post is null
Several of the parties mentioned in the post said the viral post is inaccurate. Bryan Griffin, DeSantis' press secretary said the claim was false in emails to USA TODAY. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases likewise said the claim is false in an email to USA TODAY.
Paul Michael Walters, the person who filed the UCC-1 form in the post, told USA TODAY in an email the posts are “total nonsense.”
Walters’ company listed in the form, The Paragon Diamonds, is not a diamond mining operation in Oklahoma and was dissolved about one year ago, he said. Walters said he named DeSantis and Fauci because he felt they were spreading misinformation "regarding the whole COVID-19 fiasco.”
Indeed, legal experts told PolitiFact and AP, outlets that also debunked the claim, the form is null because it’s not used for its intended purpose, and it fails to describe any collateral.
A UCC-1 form is “a legal notice filed by creditors to publicly declare their rights to potentially obtain the personal properties of debtors who default on business loans they extend,” according to Investopedia, a financial media website.
Simply filing a UCC-1 doesn’t make it legally valid, a blog post from information services company Wolters Kwuler explains. The form must be authorized by the debtor to be lawful.
A 2019 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State said illegitimate financing statements are a growing problem for state offices that handle the documents, as well as the people targeted in the forms.
It says the filings are "often used as a retaliatory measure by government separatist group members, prison inmates and others looking to harass or intimidate public officials and corporations/lending institutions."
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that DeSantis and Fauci are in the diamond mining business together. Several parties listed in the form, including the filer, said the claim is false. Legal experts said the filing is null because it was misused. The company referenced in the post was not related to diamonds and no longer exists.
Our fact-check sources:
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Nov. 17, Email interview with USA TODAY
Kylie Mason, Nov. 18, Email interview with USA TODAY
Bryan Griffin, Nov. 17, Email interview with USA TODAY
Paul Michael Walters, Nov. 17, Email interview with USA TODAY
Florida Secured Transaction Registry, accessed. Nov. 22, Detail Record For: 202105830798
National Association of Secretaries of State, June 2019, State Strategies to Subvert Fraudulent Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Filings
Value Penguin, Aug. 15, What is a UCC-1 Filing? How Do UCC Liens Work?
Investopedia, Oct. 26, What Is a UCC-1 Statement? Definition, Types, and Example
Wolters Kwuler, June 16, 2021, The courts are clear: UCC-1s must be authorized to be effective
PolitiFact, Nov. 16, DeSantis, Fauci and others are not in the diamond mining business together
The Associated Press, Nov. 17, Filing doesn’t show DeSantis, Fauci are in diamond business
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No, Fauci and DeSantis don't share diamond business