A Republican activist who has been a reliable donor to Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — despite a racist tweet that put him on the outs with DeSantis’ predecessor, Rick Scott — shot a woman and then himself in the parking lot of a Palm Beach County restaurant, according to sheriff’s deputies.
The activist, 72-year-old Steve Alembik, died. The woman, wounded in the back and arm, survived when she ran into the restaurant bleeding and was rushed to the hospital.
The shooting happened at a Burgerfi outlet in Delray Beach a week ago Monday, although Alembik’s identity wasn’t revealed until last Friday in the Boca Raton News. The wounded victim was believed to be his wife.
Over the past 20 years, Alembik, gave more than $200,000 in political contributions, mainly to Republicans, including thousands of dollars to both DeSantis and Donald Trump. The founder of a Boca Raton digital marketing company, the Democrat-turned-Republican earned notoriety in 2018 by referring to former President Barack Obama as a “f******* Muslim n*****” in a post on the social media platform X, then known as Twitter.
At the time, DeSantis was running to replace Rick Scott as governor. Scott, term-limited out of the governor’s mansion, was vying for the Senate. Both had received contributions.
The tweet, which Alembik later said he regretted, prompted Scott to pass along the $1,100 contribution from Alembik to charity.
The DeSantis campaign and allied political action committees had both received contributions from Alembik. The PAC returned $11,000 but the campaign said $4,000 given separately had been spent in the primary and could not be refunded.
DeSantis, running in the general election against former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, had ignited a racial controversy a month earlier by urging voters not to “monkey this up,” referring to the possibility of electing Gillum, who is Black.
The DeSantis campaign team denounced the tweet and announced it would take no more money from Alembik in the future.
But his campaigns have continued to accept Alembik contributions. The governor’s re-election campaign and a state political committee supporting that campaign, Friends of Ron DeSantis, together took in more than $5,000 from Alembik in 2021 and 2022, according to state records.
Alembik, who describes DeSantis as one of his “close friends” in a post on LinkedIn, first attracted attention in the wake of Trump’s comments following a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that left a counter-protester dead. After Trump insisted their were “many fine people” on both sides of the issue, mainstream charities pulled events from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
Alembik, however, decided to move a charity gala for his newly formed pro-Israel nonprofit group, Truth About Israel, to Mar-a-Lago to help fill the void.
“This president has had Israel’s back like no president has since the days of Ronald Reagan,” Alembik, who sometimes wore a red, white and blue flag costume, told the Washington Post. In total, Alembik has contributed more than $7,500 to committees supporting Trump.
Then-congressman DeSantis was one of the featured speakers at the Mar-a-Lago event.
Alembik worked with a promoter to push ticket sales on Chinese social media platforms by indicating that attendees would have access to the former president. Trump was never going to attend, however, because of the annual Governor’s Ball scheduled that same night. Unaware of that conflict, hundreds of Chinese nationals arrived, hoping to have their photo taken with the president.
The event was glitch prone in other ways. Despite Jewish attendees, the hors d’oeuvres served around the pool contained non-kosher items. There was no seating chart, leading to arguments over the best seats.
When a Herald journalist later approached Alembik to ask about the event, he told the reporter to “step out of this elevator before you get hurt.”
In December 2018, Alembik was arrested by police on a domestic violence charge. The charge was dismissed via pre-trial diversion.
Laura Loomer, a right-wing political activist who has run unsuccessfully for Congress, tweeted: “Sadly, those or us who knew Steve understood that he struggled with his mental health at times.”
The Trump and DeSantis presidential campaigns did not respond to a request for comment.