Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP allies have moved to shield the Republican leader from the state’s notoriously robust public records laws as he prepares to launch a campaign for the White House.
One bill advancing through the Republican-controlled state legislature would conceal information about DeSantis’ travel and who he has met with at the governor’s mansion. Another would allow state political committees – like the one where DeSantis has stashed $85 million for his future political ambitions – to report their fundraising activity less frequently.
Separately, DeSantis in court cases has lately claimed “executive privilege” to block the release of records and to keep staff from testifying – a power typically reserved for presidents and which none of his predecessors had previously asserted is entrusted to the state’s governor. If realized, it would give DeSantis tremendous new discretion to keep information about his administration from the public.
Democrats contend Republicans here are trying to protect DeSantis from news stories and opposition research that could reflect negatively on the governor as he nears a run for president in 2024. First Amendment advocates in the state warn these efforts will have a far-reaching effect on Floridians’ access to their leaders long after DeSantis’ turn in the national limelight.