Associated Press by Brendan Farrington
June 4, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended a meeting he held with the state’s independently elected Cabinet in Israel last week, saying Tuesday that a lawsuit filed by an open government watchdog group and several media outlets challenging the legality of the meeting was “frivolous.”
DeSantis’ remarks came after meeting with the Cabinet in the state Capitol six days after their meeting at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. He was asked about the lawsuit filed by the First Amendment Foundation and several news outlets claiming the meeting violated the state constitution and laws that require meetings be accessible to the public.
The Jerusalem meeting was streamed live by The FLORIDA Channel and reporters from Florida were in attendance. It was also shown live on screens in the Cabinet’s usual meeting room at the Capitol, and a conference line was used in case any Floridians wanted to comment on the discussion DeSantis and the Cabinet had with Israeli experts on water supplies and emergency response. None did.
“The lawsuit was frivolous, but I do think that maybe it actually caused some Floridians to want to tune into a Cabinet meeting for a change,” DeSantis said. “We’ll see how the ratings are online.”
DeSantis also noted that the law allows the governor and Cabinet to meet via conference call. Those conference calls are made through a speakerphone set up in the Cabinet room, which allows interaction with the public.
“There’s some meetings that take place just on the telephone, where there is not a physical location at all. This was streamed. There was not a single thing that we did that was not completely public the whole time,” the governor said.