Oct 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis agrees to release records related to migrant flights by December

Photo of Ron DeSantis speaking from a podium at an outdoor event

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference on Oct. 5. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) agreed this week to provide records related to the flights of migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. by Dec. 1, Politico reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis has faced scrutiny for transporting migrants last month. A Florida open-government group filed a lawsuit earlier this month in an attempt to get DeSantis to publicly release records about the flights.

Driving the news: DeSantis' administration said in a nine-page response that it has received over 90 public record requests about the flights and is currently working through a backlog of 245 total requests.

What they're saying: The Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) "has no right to leap ahead of other requesters to have its requests satisfied at breakneck speed just because it may have the resources and wherewithal to engage in litigation," Florida assistant general counsel Andrew King wrote.

  • Florida's constitution does not mandate a specific timeline for the release of state and local government records.
  • "Many requesters seek records from the governor’s senior staff, and they have primary responsibilities that include time-sensitive tasks on matters of great importance to the state," King said, citing Hurricane Ian.
  • "Therefore they cannot drop everything they are doing to dedicate uninterrupted hours or days to search for responsive records."

The other side: FLCGA said in its lawsuit that it first submitted a written request on Sept. 20 seeking records, including text and phone logs, records exchanged with the company contracted to coordinate the flights and copies of waivers signed by the migrants.

  • After FLCGA sent a second request, the DeSantis administration released some records on Oct. 7 "that were not responsive to FLCGA’s public records request," according to the group.
  • Lawyers for FLCGA that they had not received a single record requested even though the records they sought were not exempt from disclosure.
  • Their complaint accused the DeSantis administration of dragging out an "unjustified" and "unlawful delay."

Worth noting: DeSantis is currently facing three lawsuits related to the flights.

Go deeper: What we know about Texas and Florida's transport of migrants

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