Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was involved in a car crash in Tennessee this week as he traveled for his campaign. He was unhurt in the incident.
However, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, it’s only thanks to that crash that the public found out DeSantis is using state government vehicles to travel for his presidential campaign. And even with that knowledge, there’s no way to know who is paying for them.
The problem arises from legislation passed earlier this year in Florida that carves out the governor’s travel from the state’s rigorous public transparency laws.
“The DeSantis campaign did not respond to a request for more information about the use of state vehicles and personnel,” reported Jeffrey Schweers. “‘We’ve never answered questions about our protective operations assets (number of agents used, vehicles etc.),’ [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said when asked how much the agency was charging for travel and security for the governor’s campaign.”
According to the report, FDLE will release its annual protective service report next month, “but Plessinger didn’t say whether it would break down campaign expenses or show reimbursements for them.”
But some other officials and lawmakers are outraged. “It’s absurd that he’s using public resources and public infrastructure to campaign.” said Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando. “He’s using state resources to boost himself politically.”
This comes as DeSantis faces a number of struggles and setbacks in his presidential ambitions. Polls show him mired 30 points behind former President Donald Trump, and he appears to be making little progress in Iowa, where he has spent weeks campaigning for support. The governor has also come under fire for defending a state curriculum that teaches that slavery gave Black people beneficial skills, and had to fire a campaign staffer who promoted neo-Nazi content.