In an effort to protect the public's right to know what their government is doing, the First Amendment Foundation and several Florida newspapers have filed suit against the Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet for holding a public meeting in Israel.
From a First Amendment Foundation release:
Today the First Amendment Foundation, joined by the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, Gannett, and GateHouse Media have filed a complaint against the Florida Cabinet for violations of the Sunshine Law related to the scheduled Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. In filing the complaint, Foundation President Barbara Petersen said:
"The decision to challenge tomorrow¹s meeting of the Florida
Cabinet was not lightly made - it came after long deliberation and many discussions of both public policy and legal issues. Florida¹s constitution requires that meetings of the Cabinet at which public business is to be transacted or discussed be open to the public. We wish the Governor and his Cabinet success on their trade mission. But as our complaint makes clear, there are legitimate concerns regarding the constitutionality of holding a Cabinet meeting that Floridians cannot attend."
- Barbara A. Petersen, President, First Amendment Foundation
As we reported before here on Crowley Political Report, and during this week's High Tops and Politics podcast. the notion of conducting a public meeting in a foreign country is an affront to the Florida Constitution and Florida citizens. It is especially troubling that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is participating in this charade. As Attorney General she is supposed to be a guardian of the Sunshine Law just like every Attorney General before her.
In a feeble attempt to dodge the law, DeSantis and the Cabinet are now calling it a "ceremonial" meeting. There is no such thing envisioned in the law and the fact is they intend to discuss public issues concerning the environment and emergency management.
Florida citizens have a constitutional right to attend these meetings and to speak at these meeting. Simple watching the meeting on a live stream from 6,000 miles away does not meet either the spirit or intent of the Sunshine Law.
Here is a PDF of the complaint filed by the First Amendment Foundation. (Disclosure: I was once served as a Trustee on the Foundation board.)