Looking for diamonds? Dr. Anthony Fauci and the governor of Florida. So did Ron DeSantis. At least, that’s what the conspiracy theories say.
The viral statement was shared on social media platforms, including on November 17 this year. 13 Instagram posts. It included a screenshot of a tweet that said DeSantis and Fauci, as well as Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Everyone is in the diamond mining business in Oklahoma!”
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation in its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook.)
There is no evidence that these government officials were involved in diamond mining operations in Oklahoma. For one thing, the only active diamond mine in the United States is in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, not Oklahoma.
DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin confirmed to PolitiFact that the claim was “completely false.”
The claim includes screenshots of forms, Uniform Commercial Code financing statements, or UCCs, as presumptive evidence. According to financial content and research website Value Penguin, the form is filed by creditors “as a public announcement that the creditor is entitled to take possession of the asset as payment for the underlying debt.”
That said, “in theory, anyone could file a UCC-1 against anyone else,” says information services company Wolters Kluwer. In a June 2021 article, the company pointed to two cases that “show how easy it is to submit unauthorized UCC-1s,” one involving a man suing a movie studio for $400 million, Because he said the studio based his life story on the movie Titanic (a case that was dismissed).
In the diamond mine claim, Paul Michael Walters filed a Uniform Commercial Code financing statement screenshotted in an Instagram post. He told PolitiFact that he filed the document in January 2021 to protest public safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legal business experts we spoke to said the form was invalid because it was being misused.
We also found an August 2020 letter Walters wrote to the DeSantis administration condemning the mandatory wearing of masks.
Walters said he previously owned The Paragon Diamonds LLC, the company named in the UCC filing that appears to form the basis of the diamond mining claim. But it’s not a diamond mining operation, nor is it registered in Oklahoma, Walters said. He said it was registered in Wyoming and we found it listed on the Wyoming Secretary of State Business Register.
We rate DeSantis, Fauci, Moody and Redfield in the diamond mining business saying Pants on Fire!
PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.