Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Thursday that exempts records related to his travel from the state’s robust public disclosure law.
Under the new law, law enforcement agencies would be barred from sharing any records related to the governor’s security and travel, as well as “for persons for whom such services are requested by the governor.” The expansive language could allow the DeSantis administration to keep secret trips arranged by the governor’s office even when he wasn’t involved.
The law comes on the heels of the governor’s recent trips to key primary states and Israel, and critics have slammed the legislation as an attempt to keep damaging information about DeSantis’ travel from getting out just as he is expected to announce a campaign for president.
However, Republicans said the measure was necessary to protect DeSantis and prevent details about his travel habits and security detail from falling into the hands of people who might be plotting an attack on the governor. Asked about the measure last week, DeSantis said it wasn’t his idea.
The law applies retroactively and would cover his extensive use of state planes throughout his time as governor. It would also cover records related to visitors to the governor’s mansion, opponents said.
Such information has long been public record in Florida, a state where public access to state records and meetings is enshrined in its constitution, and it has at times led to uncomfortable disclosures about Florida governors.
The bill was one of 37 that DeSantis signed into law on Thursday, including a ban on schools and businesses from requiring masks or vaccinations against Covid-19 just as the federal public health emergency was about to expire.
The ban is a continuation of his policies – which were first passed in November 2021 and set to expire at the end of June – that eschewed medical experts throughout the pandemic.
Speaking to a friendly crowd in the deeply red Panhandle, DeSantis touted how Florida reopened its economy and schools ahead of most states and fought mandates for workers to get vaccinated.
“Florida did it right and those states did it wrong,” DeSantis said.