Bills blocking public access to Gov. DeSantis travel records pass two legislative committees

Supporters of SB 1616, HB 1495 cite security concerns

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two legislative committees approved a bill on Tuesday that would prevent the public from seeing travel records for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved SB 1616, and the Florida House Judiciary Committee approved HB 1495 with a vote of 15-7.

The identical bills would prevent state agencies from releasing any records detailing DeSantis’ travel, including how much he is spending on travel, which plane he traveled on and with whom he was travelling.

Supporters of the legislation cite security concerns.

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The legislation was introduced shortly after a News 6 investigation exposed the governor’s travel budget increased 50% in 2022.

That jump in cost came as the price of jet fuel rose 103%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

According to records obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, taxpayers paid $1.2 million in operational costs to transport the governor – an increase of 52% over the prior year.

Taxpayers also paid $1.2 million in financing for the governor’s Cessna Citation Latitude jet, which was purchased in 2019, according to FDLE.

They also paid $2.4 million for the governor’s security detail during those trips, which was a 30% increase from the prior year.

Access to that information could be blocked if the current legislation is approved, although testimony on Tuesday indicated financial disclosures would not be impacted.

Last year, News 6 asked the governor’s office about the increase in travel spending.

Deputy Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern responded:

“The governor’s travel is to conduct the state’s business – including meeting with and hearing from Floridians as he was elected to do. It wouldn’t be right to only interact with Floridians residing in or traveling to Tallahassee, just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to make himself available to only the Tallahassee media market.

Florida is more than 800 miles long, from Pensacola to Key West, and almost 400 miles wide from Jacksonville to Pensacola. Thus, travel, including by state aircraft, is a necessary office function. The governor has visited all 67 counties since his inauguration in 2019 to interact with as many Floridians as possible.

As for the rise in costs, this is just another result of the Biden Administration’s inflationary energy policy. In fact, according to the US Energy Information Administration, the price of jet fuel increased 118% during the timeframe you mentioned (Jul 21 – Jun 22).”

Jeremy Redfern

The bills now head to more votes in both houses in Tallahassee.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.