Florida GOP lawmakers pass bill to shield DeSantis’ travel records

Florida’s GOP-led state Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill to shield Gov. Ron DeSantis’ travel records from public disclosure ahead of his expected 2024 presidential bid.

The bill passed in the state House along party lines in an 84-31 vote, following its approval in the state Senate last month. It shields public disclosure of DeSantis’ travel records “before, on, or after” the measure’s effective date.

The bill notes Republican lawmakers’ argument that the shielding of DeSantis’ travel records would ensure the safety of the Florida governor as well as law enforcement agents and personnel providing security.

“The Legislature finds that the safety and security of persons authorized protection … under Florida Statutes, as well as the safety and security of law enforcement agents and personnel providing the security or transportation services, outweigh any public benefit that may be derived from the disclosure of such records,” the bill’s text reads.

“Therefore, it is a public necessity that records held by a law enforcement agency relating to security or transportation services under … Florida Statures, be exempt from public records requirements,” it says.

The Florida House Democratic Caucus did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

The bill’s passage comes after the GOP-controlled Legislature last week approved changes to state law that would clear the way for DeSantis to launch a 2024 presidential campaign despite the lack of a formal announcement. The provision, which was included in a much larger election overhaul bill, would exempt anyone running for president or vice president from the state’s resign-to-run law.

DeSantis has traveled extensively outside Florida in advance of an expected 2024 presidential bid. He recently returned from a trip to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom that was funded by Enterprise Florida, a public-private state agency that focuses on attracting businesses to the state, raising questions about whether at least some taxpayer money was used to pay for the trip.

DeSantis said Monday at a news conference for bill signings that he did not propose the travel records measure, saying that he believes it was “motivated by security concerns” for state officials.

“With the security situation, how you do patterns of movements if you’re somebody that is targeted — which unfortunately I am, and I get a lot of threats — that could be something that could be helpful for people that may not want to do good things,” DeSantis said.

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