Florida lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill that would shield the travel records of Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
If approved, the bill would be the first public records exemption for the transportation records held by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to the newspaper.
The bill would be retroactive and effectively bar the public from examining DeSantis' travel records as he prepares for what is considered a likely campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
The Florida Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 8-0 on Wednesday to advance the bill, which would exempt travel records for "the governor, the governor's immediate family, visiting governors and their families, the lieutenant governor, a member of the Cabinet, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate, or the chief justice of the Supreme Court" and people who travel with them.
Since DeSantis was elected governor, his staff has refused to disclose many of the details of his political schedule, the Times noted.
State Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Republican, sponsored he bill.
"There has been an increase in public records requests regarding our governor and his travel simply because of his notoriety and his position for the past few years," Martin said.
The Times noted that as DeSantis conducts a national book tour, questions are being raised about whether tax money has been used to pay for travel.
The Times said state officials in the past who used state assets for political purposes were expected to pay back the money.
In an unrelated matter, allies of former President Donald Trump filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics, accusing DeSantis of violating campaign finance and ethics rules with a shadow run for the White House, The Associated Press reported. DeSantis' office called it a "frivolous and politically motivated" charge.
The 15-page complaint filed March 15 by MAGA Inc., a Trump-supporting super political action committee, asks the commission to investigate DeSantis for allegedly "leveraging his elected office and breaching his associated duties in a coordinated effort to develop his national profile, enrich himself and his political allies, and influence the national electorate."
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