Home Consumer Washington Post Lawsuit Challenges Florida Law Shielding Desantis Travel Records

Washington Post Lawsuit Challenges Florida Law Shielding Desantis Travel Records

Gov. Ron DeSantis receives a ‘Liberty Sword’ from Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice, left, and Tina Descovich, center, at the group’s national summit in Tampa in July 2022. Photo: Executive Office of the Governor


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law blocking Gov. Ron DeSantis’ publicly funded travel records from the public is unconstitutional and the state should be required to turn them over, asserts a legal challenge filed by The Washington Post.

The Post’s lawsuit marks the first effort to challenge the law, which the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed just weeks before DeSantis officially announced a run for president.

The media organization first sued the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency which keeps DeSantis’ travel records, over the summer after it rebuffed the Post over four separate public records requests. Florida Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ordered FDLE to turn over all “nonexempt public records” following a September court hearing, but the agency said certain records were exempt due to the new law.

In late October, lawyers for the Post filed a 25-page motion asking that Dempsey order the law-enforcement agency to hand over additional records, asserting that the travel records exemption was overly broad and unconstitutional. Florida voters in 1992 passed a “Sunshine amendment” that guarantees the public’s access to government records and open meetings.

“The exemption sweeps from public view every record relating in any way to the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, including the most basic information needed to inform the public about what those services are for, when they were provide, who received them and why,” states the motion filed by the Post’s lawyers. “The Florida Constitution prohibits such a gaping disconnect between the narrow justification for an exemption and its sweeping coverage.”

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