Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has spent the past several weeks describing LGBTQ people as sexual predators or "groomers" of future victims. But behind closed doors, DeSantis is trying to hide public documents about someone who is actually linked to a federal sex trafficking investigation, Click Orlando said.
Halsey Beshears, DeSantis' former appointee to chair Florida’s business licensing agency was subpoenaed by the ongoing investigation involving Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and former tax collector Joel Greenberg, according to Politico. The probe is looking into, among other things, whether there were Venmo payments to at least one underage girl for sex. Gaetz has denied it and said he gave her money for school.
The reason that the records have been blocked is that DeSantis wanted to "review" them. The open records laws, however, don't allow for a governor to block public documents so he can "review" them.
“In accordance with the Governor’s duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, the Executive Office of the Governor may review the record to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the record production,” said DeSantis' press person, Bryan Griffin.
That's still not the way it works, however.
“Once an (agency’s records custodian) has a record, that custodian must produce the record right then. It doesn’t matter that the governor has an interest in it and wants to review it later,” said Pamela C. Marsh, the director of the First Amendment Foundation, a non-partisan group focusing on government transparency. “We understand that this is happening more frequently, but not consistently, such that it appears to have an objective of hiding certain information in a potentially discriminatory or content-based way."
The report outlined page 168 of the Sunshine Manual, citing "the only delay" allowed under the transparency laws "is the limited reasonable time allowed the custodian to retrieve the record and delete those portions of the record the custodian asserts are exempt."
The problem, however, is that it has already been revealed that they collected the documents over a few days, some in a few hours.
DeSantis' signature on the "Don't Say Gay" bill means that there can't be any instruction of a sexual nature in K-3rd grade. At that age, the only "sexual" instruction is in helping children understand what isn't acceptable touching and when to tell a grown-up. This kind of instruction has long been part of an effort to protect children from abuse and exploitation.
Florida has faced serious accusations and lawsuits over some of the stories about child endangerment and abuse in the foster care system there. The state privatized their Child Protective Services and the result has been a disaster with abuse allegations and lawsuits from groups like Justice for Kids and lawyer Howard M. Talenfeld. One of the more recent lawsuits is of a 4-day-old baby seized by a sheriff when the family was able to care for him.