Florida Gov. DeSantis' travel records would be shielded under new bill

Disclosure of information about the governor’s travel could compromise security, the bill sponsor said.

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Travel records involving Gov. Ron DeSantis and his family would be shielded from public disclosure under a proposal moving forward in the Senate and the House.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 1616) that would create a public-records exemption for records held by law-enforcement agencies related to “transportation and protective services” provided to the governor, the governor’s immediate family, visiting governors and “other persons as requested by certain state officers.”

Senate bill sponsor Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, said disclosure of information about the governor’s travel could expose security operations and logistics undertaken by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is charged with the governor’s safety. 

“My understanding is there has been an increase in public-records requests regarding our governor and his travel simply because of the notoriety of his position in the past few years,” Martin said.

DeSantis is widely expected to become a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination as early as May or June. 

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday approved the House version of the bill (HB 1495).

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issues an annual report outlining costs of protecting the governor, his family, the governor’s mansion and visiting dignitaries. The 2021-2022 report showed taxpayers spent close to $6 million on such security in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, up 25 percent from the previous year.

While most of the expenses involved protecting DeSantis, the report noted protective services also were provided to the governors of 27 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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