Push back against DeSantis’ ‘ceremonial’ meeting in Israel

Did the governor break the law?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with his cabinet, held a meeting in Israel talking about big topics that affect you. But you could not go – only watch the meeting thousands of miles away on your computer.

First Amendment activists said that is against the law. An open-government watchdog group and several news outlets are suing them because of it.

“We have a right to be present,” Barbara Peterson said.

Peterson, of the Florida First Amendment Foundation’s, said the constitution and Florida law states the public should have not only the ability to view cabinet sessions like this one but be there to ask questions.

“Holding a meeting 6,000 miles away doesn’t make it easy to attend,” Peterson said. “Our cabinet should not meet outside the boundaries of the state of Florida. All Floridians should be free to attend cabinet meetings.”

The governor’s office called the meeting “ceremonial,” which the resolution was signed. But they also heard presentations on victims of terror, water quality and emergency management.

“They’re going to be talking about substantive topics of serious concern to the resident of Florida,” Peterson said. “Certainly this was a meeting where public business was discussed, so the constitution applied.”

Peterson also said proper notice is required and a week in advance for a trip overseas is not enough.

“The cost made it prohibitive for most people,” Peterson said.

“I think bringing a lawsuit may be over the top,” Seay said.

But Pamella Seay, attorney and Florida Gulf Coast University professor, thinks a more significant issue is April’s closed-door water meeting in Fort Myers in which there were no live streams or recordings.

“That’s when you need to be worried about government,” Seay said.

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