Florida judge orders Ron DeSantis to turn over records on migrant flights

October 28, 2022


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) must turn over records connected with migrant flights from Texas to Massachusetts, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday, October 25, saying his administration had failed to comply with the state’s public records law, reports HuffPost.

 The governor’s office says it intends to appeal the decision, claiming that DeSantis already has provided “a significant number” of documents on the controversial flights, despite being preoccupied with Hurricane Ian.

This month, the open government group Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) filed a lawsuit seeking to compel DeSantis to release public records related to two charter flights he ordered that took 48 migrants, many of them Venezuelan, from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

 A judge in Leon County, Florida, J. Lee Marsh, ruled against the governor and ordered his office to turn over the public records that FLCGA requested within 20 days. These records include phone and text logs of James Uthmeier, the governor’s chief of staff, who helped transport migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

The governor’s office did not show “any steps, direct steps taken to gather what this court finds are public records,” Marsh said.

 DeSantis also is facing lawsuits from migrants who were left stranded after being flown to the Massachusetts island. What’s more, a Texas sheriff is investigating whether the migrants, who were given false promises of work and shelter before they were flown to Massachusetts as a political stunt, were defrauded.

 Another investigation, launched in October by the Treasury Department’s inspector general, is investigating whether DeSantis “improperly used” money from COVID-19 aid to pay for the flights.

Research contact: @HuffPost