Ron DeSantis loves his state plane. He uses it to fly to publicly funded events, like his infamous signing of a voter suppression bill in 2021 that was pitched as an exclusive to Fox News and held in front of a crowd, a spectacle resembling a campaign rally.
The state plane cost taxpayers $15 million to buy and $3 million to operate. There are laws that establish that there must be a separation between official duties and campaigning but DeSantis’ team increasingly flouts it with campaign-style events at venues filled with supporters that are promoted through campaign emails selling merchandise that is later displayed at the events.
This misuse of public resources should be infuriating enough for Floridians but DeSantis isn’t satisfied with just ONE state plane. Florida Senate Republicans have introduced a bill that would add two more planes to the state’s executive aircraft transport roster.
Reminder that while Floridians struggle to pay skyrocketing rent prices, Ron DeSantis wants to use our tax dollars to buy several more planes so he can keep flying to campaign style publicly funded events, a misuse of public resources that has cost Floridians over $15.5 million. pic.twitter.com/5jhRqZS0ou
— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) March 23, 2022
According to the proposed legislation, the governor gets a plane to himself, which would be designated “Aircraft one”. Aircraft two will be specifically set for use by only the lieutenant governor, cabinet members, and the chief justice and justices of the Florida Supreme Court. Aircraft three will be used only by the Florida Senate President or Speaker of the House, appointed secretaries and executive directors of executive branch departments, and chairs of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, Public Service Commission, and Florida Commission on Offender Review.
The legislation will cost Floridians $25.3 million from the state General Revenue Fund and another $6 million in recurring funds from the Operating Trust Fund and will be included in the 2022-23 fiscal budget.
Former Republican Governor Rick Scott previously sold off two state planes as part of his campaign promise to limit abuses of power by government officials. While the promise was laughable considering that Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times when being deposed after committing the largest case of Medicare fraud in U.S. history, his point about corrupt elected officials taking advantage of the public dollars to benefit themselves is well taken.
Florida is a big state and is understandable that air travel should be considered when traveling across it. What’s not reasonable is that the party of supposed “fiscal responsibility” thinks it’s ok to spend over $30 million from our tax dollars in buying several planes when the state already owns one and for officials who can very well fly commercial like the rest of us. What’s even more egregious is that not only is our tax revenue being spent on private planes for officials, Ron DeSantis is using public funds and resources to benefit himself and his political aspirations.
Floridians are struggling to pay for housing due to skyrocketing rent prices in Florida. Florida ranks 49th nationwide in income inequality, 48th in tax fairness, 44th in education spending, and 49th in average teacher salary. I think we have more important things to address with our tax dollars rather than buying new private planes so DeSantis and his cronies can keep using public funds for campaign purposes.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from @tomaskenn.
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.