Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration did not comply with state public records laws and must turn over records relating to flights taking migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a judge ruled Tuesday.
On September 14, two planes picked up 48 migrants in San Antonio, Texas, and dropped them off in Martha’s Vineyard. Their arrival prompted a frantic response that included humanitarian aid provided by locals and assistance from Massachusetts officials.
The next day, DeSantis’ office acknowledged it sent the planes, drawing strong reaction from Democratic officials in Florida and the White House.
On Tuesday, Leon County Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh said the governor’s office did not show “any steps, direct steps taken to gather what this court finds are public records” requested by the Florida Center for Government Accountability. The judge gave the administration 20 days to provide the records, the Miami Herald reported.
CNN has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.
“We’re very pleased to report that we were victorious in court today …” the FLCGA tweeted. “… It’s a great day for the Public Records Act and the right to know what our government is doing!”
The group filed a lawsuit October 10 seeking to compel release of the public records including text and phone logs, communication with the contractors who provided the flights as well as copies of any waivers the migrants signed.
“We don’t believe the Governor’s Office responded in good faith to our records request. Not a single record that we actually requested has been produced,” Michael Barfield, FLCGA’s public access program director, said in a news release when the suit was filed. “The public’s right to know is more important than the Governor’s desire to dole out misinformation. The Governor has a constitutional duty to provide information to the citizens of the state of Florida.”