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AG Commissioner criticizes 2 new planes for exec air travel; Are they really for gov’s reelection campaign?

The Florida Legislature approved the purchase of two state planes that could be utilised for “executive air travel” for condition officials, funds files clearly show.

That lifted concerns by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who addressed the issue at a Tuesday press convention, saying that DeSantis would be applying “taxpayers’ pounds these days to invest in two new added planes — it’s exhibiting a absence of priority for the men and women of our point out.”

“The governor has abused the airplane that the people bought him now,” Fried mentioned. “He’s getting this to push conferences, where it is mainly marketing campaign rallies.”

Fried did not deliver unique particulars of any marketing campaign-like rallies.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a campaign-fashion function in Cape Coral on July 30, 2021, that he will block educational institutions from imposing mask mandates. Screenshot: Fb Reside

But the governor has been seen in configurations in the course of his travels that include balloons and the American flag. For case in point, there had been red, white and blue balloons, and an American flag, at a Cape Coral celebration on mask mandates on July 30, 2021.

Even so, Christina Pushaw, the govenor’s press secretary, stated “DeSantis only employs the point out airplane for formal business, in accordance with the regulation. Official business incorporates the press conferences and conferences that are on the governor’s community calendar that our office environment sends out each individual working day. It does not incorporate fundraisers or marketing campaign functions, which condition taxpayer funds are under no circumstances utilised for.”

Fried is a 2022 gubernatorial applicant hoping to oust DeSantis in the November elections, while she demands to acquire the Democratic principal to start with.

In the condition budget that was a short while ago finalized, virtually $30.8 million would be presented to the Florida Section of Administration Expert services to acquire two “executive jets,” known as the Embraer Phenom 300E that can sit 11 occupants, like crew members. (The point out budget also integrated costs for six pilots.)

Even so, Cabinet customers, which include Fried herself, the lieutenant governor, justices of the Supreme Court and other individuals would also have accessibility to a single of the government aircrafts for travel, in accordance to the laws.

The 2022-23 condition funds accepted Monday also shows that condition lawmakers authorized about $26.5 million in the condition budget for Fried’s Florida Section of Agriculture and Client Products and services to buy aircrafts. In accordance to the funds records, the company would use the resources to “replace four helicopters and a single preset wing plane for wildfire suppression activities.”

In addition, lawmakers accepted $5 million in the point out funds “for the acquisition of plane which include money for gasoline and maintenance” for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

At the Tuesday press meeting, Fried acknowledged that the 2022 legislative session resulted in historic funding, saying her agency gained the “largest FDACS spending plan at any time, at $1.99 billion whole.”

She also added that the company been given pay improves for some agricultural workers in the state budget, but numerous initiatives addressing weather change and other environmental concerns weren’t backed by lawmakers in the session.

“We saw so quite a few Democratic payments that didn’t get a very first hearing,” she mentioned. Fried also additional that “the Legislature was additional involved about a November election.”

At just one stage throughout Tuesday’s press party, Fried pointed to several protests around controversial lifestyle-war costs that handed for the duration of the session, this sort of as the so-identified as “Don’t Say Gay” invoice and the 15-7 days abortion ban. “They passed items of laws that infringe upon people’s legal rights,” explained Fried, who is the only Democrat on the elected Cabinet.

The state price range for 2022-23 has been authorised by lawmakers, but Gov. DeSantis has to approve it as very well. He also has the authority to veto factors of the finances.

Pushaw pressured that “the state legislature bundled in their funds proposed funding for two new condition planes. Like all the legislature’s proposed budget products, it has not been acted on, and will be extensively reviewed by the governor in advance of he can make his determination about it.

“If Governor DeSantis approves the legislature’s spending plan with this item in it, the new point out planes would not be for “his special use. In reality, the two new aircraft would be employed by legislative leaders and Cupboard associates (that includes Commissioner Fried herself, as Agriculture Commissioner is a Cabinet placement). The planes would only be obtainable to them for official enterprise, in accordance with condition regulation. All of this is spelled out extremely obviously in the appropriations invoice passed by the legislature in this session.”

Correction: An earlier model of a finances-associated monthly bill on govt aircrafts showed that one particular airplane would be “designated for and could be utilised exclusively for the governor’s vacation.” But the closing model of that monthly bill did not use that language.

This story has been updated with some comments by the governor’s push secretary.