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Washington Post challenges Florida law exempting governor’s travel records

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Washington Post is challenging a Florida law that exempts records related to the Governor’s travel, alleging the law is unconstitutional.

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Florida legislators passed the new law earlier this year shielding records related to the Governor and other top-state officials’ travel from the public view.

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Governor Ron DeSantis at the time argued the legislation was passed in response to growing security concerns.

“Because you’re in a situation where these movements unfortunately are watched. We have situations where we’ll have people waiting for us,” DeSantis said in a May press conference.

But after the Washington Post was denied access to information related to the cost of the Governor’s travel after he launched his Presidential bid, the news organization filed suit.

Related Story: Gov. DeSantis travel records could be shielded under proposal

In a motion filed in late October, lawyers representing the Post argued the law is overbroad, writing, “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 provided, who received them, and why.”

It’s similar to the argument made by Bobby Block with the First Amendment Foundation when we spoke with him about the law in May.

Related Story: Florida lawmakers approve concealing travel records of Gov. DeSantis, state leaders from the public

“It was always our position that is was possible to both protect our public officials and the public’s right to know by basically not exempting the records, but redacting the appropriate fields,” Block said.

Back in August, Action News Jax showed you how the cost of the Governor’s security rose by nearly 70 percent in the last fiscal year.

Travel expenses related to the Governor’s protection rose roughly 20 percent in that same time frame.

Related Story: As DeSantis ramps up Presidential campaign, new state law will shield taxpayer-funded travel

With the Governor now routinely traveling the country on the campaign trail, Block argued the blanket shielding of his travel records leaves taxpayers in the dark.

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“And the reason that there’s a constitutional right for citizens in the State of Florida to have access to public records is precisely for that reason. To make government more accountable, to make it more accessible to the citizens and to make sure that everyone has an insight into how government is working,” Block said. “And when we don’t have that insight, unfortunately, that’s when bad things often happen.

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