An open-government group Monday filed a lawsuit seeking to force Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to release additional records about a controversial decision last month to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
The Florida Center for Government Accountability filed the lawsuit in Leon County circuit court and alleged that the governor’s office did not comply with requests to release a series of records about the flights.
Among other things, the group sought records, phone logs or text logs that could show communications by DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier about the flights, according to the lawsuit. Also, it sought any records that would show communications with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office about relocating migrants.
The lawsuit said the DeSantis administration provided records Friday but that they were not “responsive” to requests made Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 under Florida’s public-records law.
“None of the records produced by defendants are records sent or received by the EOG (Executive Office of the Governor) or governor,” the lawsuit, filed by Sarasota attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen and Tampa attorney Matthew Farmer, said. “None of the records are within the timeframe of records sought in the first or second requests.”
The lawsuit said the DeSantis administration provided records that had been “sent to or received from another agency.” It did not detail those records, but the administration released documents Friday to the Miami Herald and other news organizations involving the Florida Department of Transportation, which helped carry out the flights.
In an email attached to the lawsuit, the governor’s office described the documents released Friday as the “first production” of records.
“The Office of Open Government (in the governor’s office) has been working to retrieve, review and produce documents responsive to the many public records requests we have received regarding the flights to Martha’s Vineyard,” the email from the office said. “In an effort to produce documents more efficiently, this office is retrieving, reviewing and producing any documents related to the aforementioned flights.”
The two flights of migrants drew national attention and came as DeSantis regularly criticizes the Biden administration on border policy and the handling of undocumented immigrants. DeSantis and other Republicans also have heavily criticized “sanctuary” communities, such as Martha’s Vineyard.
The flights of about 50 people, mostly Venezuelans, started in San Antonio, Texas, stopped at an airport in the Northwest Florida community of Crestview and then headed north to Martha’s Vineyard. The DeSantis administration tapped into $12 million that the Legislature provided to transport undocumented immigrants from Florida — though part of the controversy has centered on the migrant flights originating in Texas.
Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, has filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court, alleging the DeSantis administration violated the state Constitution and a separate law. Meanwhile, lawyers representing some asylum seekers flown to Massachusetts filed a potential class-action lawsuit against DeSantis, Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue and unidentified people who helped recruit the immigrants in Texas.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
No one is above the law. Not even you Ronnie
Dennis C Rathsam says
The democrats are pulling out everything in thier dirty play book. They realize Charlie Crist doesnt have the power to beat De Santis, so they run to the mud. We have watch this happen time & time again, as the ellection nears, the polls show the jackass party losing in most America. Its time for the GOP clean up the mess called Joe Biden!
“ … as the ellection (sic) nears the polls show…” references please.
Also Dennis, when you want make a claim that is an opinion, it would probably help to not use propaganda speech like “jackass party”.
Were you born delusional or did you work hard to become this way? Step back, take a deep breath and look at the facts. He has apparently failed to follow the laws regarding this felonious transport of human beings. Right now he and his cohorts are fortunate they have not been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.
He had better throw off his sheet and hood and welcome migrants back to Florida.
Who does he think is going to rebuild South Florida. More to the point, is who or which group of people can be exploited to provide the cheapest labor?