Florida GOP bill seeks to hide names of visitors to governor’s mansion
Republican Ron DeSantis, far-right governor of Florida and a pontential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has not been shy about expressing his vehement disdain for the media. And DeSantis, along with GOP allies like Florida State Sen. Alex Andrade, favors bills that would make it easier to sue journalists for defamation — bills that, according to Politico, could be possible violations of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan.
Now, Republicans in the Florida State Legislature are promoting bills that would find another way to make things more difficult for reporters in the Sunshine State by hiding the names of guests who visit the Florida governor's mansion in Tallahassee.
According to News Service of Florida reporter Jim Turner, "The names of certain guests at the governor's mansion would not be disclosed to the public under Senate and House bills that also would shield travel records of the governor and other state leaders…. The bills would create a public records exemption involving information held by law enforcement agencies related to 'security or transportation services' provided to the governor, the governor's immediate family, the lieutenant governor, cabinet members, the House speaker, the Senate president and the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court."
On Tuesday, April 11, according to Turner, Republicans in the Florida Senate Rules Committee and the Florida House Judiciary Committee approved the bills in question: Florida Senate Bill 1616 in the Florida Senate and House Bill 1495 in the Florida House of Representatives. This clears the way for them to go to the full Florida Senate and full Florida House for consideration.
If passed in the Florida State Legislature — which is now dominated by Republicans — they would go to DeSantis' desk to be signed into law.
Turner notes that on April 11, the Florida Senate Rules Committee and the Florida House Judiciary Committee also "added proposals to prevent disclosure of information related to mansion security operations, including information about screenings and clearances."
In the past, Florida had a reputation for being the ultimate swing state. Republican President George W. Bush won Florida in 2000 and 2004, but the state went to Democratic President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, in the 2022 midterms, Florida acted like a deep red state when DeSantis ran as a far-right culture warrior and defeated Democratic nominee Charlie Crist (a former Republican) by 19 percent. Republicans, in 2022, also expanded their majorities in the Florida State Legislature.
Read the News Service of Florida’s full report at this link.
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