Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sued over migrant flight records

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Hunter Crenian

A Florida nonprofit advocating for open government filed a lawsuit on Monday to compel the DeSantis administration to disclose information about migrant flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

The larger picture: In relation to the two charter flights that transported about 50 Venezuelan refugees to the Massachusetts island last month, this is the third lawsuit that has been filed against DeSantis’ office.

The Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) filed a petition in Leon County Circuit Court alleging that the governor’s office is suppressing information on the topic and that it has refused to divulge data, including flight logs.

Last Friday, the DeSantis administration disclosed some information regarding the flights, but the group claimed it was not “responsive” to several queries.

The FLCGA is looking for conversations between DeSantis’ office and James Uthmeier, information concerning the flights, waivers signed by the undocumented passengers, and any details of communications with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office regarding moving migrants.

What they’re saying: According to the lawsuit, the defendant’s failure to turn up the requested information “is irrational, unjustifiable, and amounts to an unlawful delay and refusal to deliver the records.”

Zoom in: According to a governor’s office email that is part of the complaint, the records that were made public on Friday are the “initial production.”

  • 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,” according to the email.
  • “In an effort to produce documents more efficiently, this office is retrieving, reviewing, and producing any documents related to the aforementioned flights.”

Background: The problem has already been the subject of two prior lawsuits. Last month, state senator Jason Pizzo (D) filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and other state officials on the grounds that the migrant flights were against Florida’s program because the migrants weren’t in the nation unlawfully and the flight didn’t originate in Florida.

DeSantis and other Florida officials were sued in a class action lawsuit in September by the undocumented migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard.

The opposing view: At a press conference last month, DeSantis justified his actions on the migrant flights, saying: “Most of them are intending to come to Florida.”

A request for comment from DeSantis’ team was not immediately answered.

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