Miami Herald by Elizabeth Koh
A lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida state Cabinet seeking to stop their “ceremonial” meeting in Jerusalem Wednesday stalled after a county judge rejected it for the second time in two days. The meeting went on as planned.
Open government advocates said they are reviewing their next steps and expect to reach a decision on how to proceed by early next week.
The First Amendment Foundation, joined by several news organizations including the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, sued the Cabinet in Leon County Circuit Court Tuesday, arguing the Cabinet had violated the state’s open meetings law by meeting 6,000 miles away from Tallahassee and not opening the meeting to the public. The announcement that the body would meet in Jerusalem was made about a week before the trip took place.
But Judge Angela Dempsey, who had been assigned the case, dismissed the initial complaint Tuesday saying that there was no evidence the defendants had been served with the summons in time. In an order released about an hour before the Cabinet met Wednesday, Dempsey rejected a motion to reconsider, referencing the first decision.
In the half-hour meeting, which took place Wednesday morning Florida time, DeSantis — alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried — heard presentations on a handful of issues including water quality and emergency management and agreed to a resolution affirming the Florida-Israeli relationship.