The Phoenix Flyer

Gov. DeSantis and the Cabinet are going to Jerusalem next month on taxpayers’ dime, but no details forthcoming

By: - April 16, 2019 10:17 am

Wikimedia Commons photo

In about five weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the three members of the Florida Cabinet will fly to Israel to promote Florida as a business destination. While there, they’ll hold their regular monthly meeting.

How will they get there?

Where will they stay?

Who’ll be included among the legislators and business people tagging along?

What will it cost taxpayers?

The governor’s office isn’t saying. His aides haven’t responded to the Florida Phoenix’s multiple requests for those details and others. Neither have aides for Cabinet members Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, or Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. A spokeswoman at Enterprise Florida, which is planning the logistics, gave this reply to our list of questions regarding the trip last week:

“Yes, EFI has coordinated missions with previous Florida governors. Additional details are not available at this time.”

The Phoenix’s reply email seeking clarification went unanswered.

Here’s what we know:

The trip is scheduled for May 25-31 and will include stops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It will include the Cabinet meeting at the new U.S. embassy in the disputed capital, according to the administration’s April 9 press release.

DeSantis will deliver the keynote speech during an Israeli-American business summit, also at the embassy.

The delegation will include academic, business, and political leaders from Florida.

DeSantis is a major booster for the U.S.-Israeli alliance. In Congress, he was among those pressing to move the embassy to Jerusalem. He promised during his campaign to travel there.

As governor, one of his early initiatives was Cabinet approval of a resolution withdrawing state investments from companies participating in the BDS movement – particularly targeting Airbnb, which had considered disallowing bookings in Israeli settler homes in the West Bank.

In a statement posted on its website on April 9, the company announced it would allow such bookings after all, but would donate its profits to humanitarian causes.

DeSantis and the Cabinet also approved a resolution declaring Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel.

I promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in America and that the first delegation I would lead would be to the state of Israel,” DeSantis said in the press release. “Today, I’m pleased to report that I’m keeping that promise.”

Update: This story has been amended to reflect Airbnb’s April 9 announcement that it would allow West Bank rentals. The company said it had never formally endorsed the BDS movement or boycotted Israel or any businesses or individuals there.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.