Recently, private jets associated with the Fontainebleau Hotel and a central Florida developer flew to several cities, including Tallahassee, Newark, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where Governor Ron DeSantis also made stops. The governor’s office denied any use of taxpayer money for these flights and did not comment on who paid for them. The state Republican Party spent money on travel expenses in the first quarter, including chartered flights, but there is no indication that the February trip was a gift from the party.
Flight tracking records show that a private chartered jet recently flew from Austin, Texas, to Japan, South Korea, Israel, London, Boston, and finally Tallahassee, coinciding with the governor’s movements for the past week. The trip is being paid for by private donations to Enterprise Florida, but the agency has not responded to questions about why a chartered jet was used and how much it will cost.
State Rep. Jeff Holcomb sponsored a bill that would shield DeSantis’ travel records associated with taxpayer-paid travel from scrutiny, which supporters say is needed for security purposes. However, opponents argue that the bill is too broadly written and could shield past travel records from public view, including basic information like the city and day a state jet was used.
This bill comes ahead of an expected presidential campaign by DeSantis. In the past, news organizations uncovered questionable uses of state jets by top Florida politicians, leading to the sale of Florida’s state-owned jets by then-Gov. Rick Scott. However, state legislators recently reversed that decision and are now seeking to put a cloak of darkness over travel expenses.