The Florida state legislature moved this week to allow Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and other officials to hide their travel records from the public.
It’s just one of several moves made in recent weeks and months by the state legislature that appear to aid DeSantis’ 2024 campaign. Last week, the Republican-controlled body passed a handful of new voting restrictions and changes to state election law, including tweaking the state’s “resign to run” provision, paving the way for DeSantis to serve as governor and campaign for the White House at the same time.
On Tuesday, the legislature passed the travel records bill, which would exempt “certain security or transportation services” from public records requirements.
The Republican governor’s recent use of private chartered flights to shake hands and kiss babies in key primary states like Iowa has sparked questions about what looks like campaign travel—and who’s paying for it. But Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers), who sponsored the bill, claimed to the Tampa Bay Times in March that the bill had to do with protecting the governor’s safety and privacy.
“There has been an increase in public records requests regarding our governor and his travel simply because of his notoriety and his position for the past few years,” Martin said.
DeSantis echoed this reasoning at a Titusville event on Monday: “With the security situation, how you do patterns of movements, if you’re somebody that is targeted, which unfortunately I am… that could be something that could be helpful for people that may not want to do good things,” he said.
State law does allow him to use government planes for political and personal travel, but complaints have risen about DeSantis using taxpayer-funded transportation for his own gain.
This is the line of inquiry the Trump campaign seized on to go after the governor.
“In recent months, Governor DeSantis has used taxpayer dollars to travel around the country for his 2024 presidential campaign, including to the early voting states of Iowa and Nevada,” they said in a statement last month. “DeSantis’s gubernatorial office, however, refuses to tell reporters—and the public—how much taxpayer money has been spent to fund these travels, or how much DeSantis’s April globe-trotting will cost.”