‘Totally baseless’: Gov. DeSantis responds to lawsuit over meeting in Israel

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida Cabinet meeting scheduled to happen at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday is drawing some criticism – and has even led to a lawsuit.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is currently in Jerusalem leading a trade mission. The Cabinet meeting was organized as part of the trip and has been labeled as “ceremonial.” 

But an open-government watchdog group and several news outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times, sued the governor and members of the Cabinet on Tuesday over the meeting. The lawsuit argues that the meeting violates the state’s constitution and open-government laws. Florida laws require Cabinet sessions to be open to the public. 

“It’s totally baseless and meritless,” Gov. DeSantis told us Wednesday. “Here’s the thing, sometimes we’ll do Cabinet meetings on the phone. Sometimes there’s not even a physical location at all.”

While Florida residents who don’t happen to be in Jerusalem won’t be able to attend Wednesday’s meeting, it will be streamed live on The FLORIDA Channel

“This is being streamed…and we want that. And I guarantee you, there’s probably going to be more people that watch it because we’re in Jerusalem than would watch a normal Cabinet meeting,” DeSantis said. “So we’re actually expanding interest in what the Florida Cabinet’s doing.” 

According to the lawsuit, Gov. DeSantis has termed the meeting an “information gathering session.” The suit claims “information gathering” sessions fall within the Sunshine Law’s requirements.

“We’re compliant with Sunshine (Law,) we were insistent that that’s the case,” the governor said. “But I think this is going to be a historic meeting. And I think a lot of folks in Florida will probably be more interested because we’re doing it over here.”

The other Cabinet members mentioned in the lawsuit are Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. 

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