Gov. Ron DeSantis has cancelled a meeting of the Florida Cabinet again, prompting complaints from Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried that the governor is evading oversight under Florida’s unique executive branch mechanism.
The three Cabinet members — Fried, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — are top statewide elected officials who conduct the state’s business, along with the governor.
Fried, a Democrat seeking her party’s nomination to campaign against Republican DeSantis in November, said DeSantis’ office gave no reason for cancelling a Cabinet meeting set for June 28 and a June 29 meeting of the Board of Executive Clemency.
The notice arrived via a terse email from Caroline Redshaw, DeSantis’ aide for Cabinet affairs.
“As if only scheduling four total meetings this year of the Cabinet and clemency board to conduct important state business and giving Floridians who have waited years an opportunity for a second chance wasn’t insulting enough, the governor has now cancelled the second of those scheduled meetings that were to be held at the end of the month,” Fried said in a written statement.
“While not surprising given the number of Cabinet and clemency board meetings cancelled without cause by Gov. DeSantis over the years, his continued unwillingness to do his job and focus on the urgent challenges facing our state is an insult to the people of Florida. But maybe he can use this new-found free time on those days to implement the much-needed gas tax break now to help Floridians instead of waiting until October on the eve of the election,” Fried added.
The Florida Constitution allots some executive functions to the Cabinet, which at present comprises Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, both Republicans, and Fried. The governor presides over these meetings.
The same arrangement applies to the clemency board, which considers requests to restore certain rights to convicted felons, including to vote and own firearms.
The Cabinet met monthly before DeSantis took office in January 2019, but early in his term he said he saw no reason to convene that frequently.
“You can meet however often you want,” he said in May 2019. “Probably not going to be every month.”
The governor and Cabinet last met in March and are scheduled to meet again on Aug. 23 and Dec. 13. The clemency board is set to meet on Aug. 24 and Dec. 14.
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix