As he gets ready to launch a White House bid, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his GOP supporters have taken action to protect the Republican leader from the state’s notoriously strict public records laws.
One bill would let state political committees, such as the one where DeSantis has put away $85 million for his future political aspirations, report their fundraising activity less regularly. DeSantis’ travel history and the people he has met with at the governor’s house would be kept secret under a different law making its way through the Republican-controlled state legislature.
DeSantis has recently used “executive privilege” in court cases to prevent the release of records and prevent staff from testifying. This is a power that is typically exercised by presidents and that none of his predecessors ever claimed should belong to the state’s governor. If it were to come to pass, DeSantis would have a newfound freedom to hide information about his administration from the public.
News organizations have filed lawsuits against his administration to seek records that prior governors routinely provided upon request. By failing to provide documents pertaining to the flights his administration organized for migrants to take from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, a judge found DeSantis in violation of the state’s open records laws last year.
The legislation that would exempt DeSantis’ official travel from the statutes governing public information has now been pushed by Republican lawmakers. The legislation, which has already cleared the state Senate and is probably going to pass the state House, would cover both DeSantis’ upcoming travel and his significant use of official aircraft while serving as governor.