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Breaking: Groups Express Concern Over Gov. DeSantis Trip to Israel

Breaking: Groups Express Concern Over Gov. DeSantis Trip to Israel

  • May 23, 2019
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Washington, D.C. | May 23, 2019 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in coalition with state and national civil and human rights organizations, delivered a letter today, to Florida’s Governor DeSantis, opposing his upcoming trip to Israel. The trip is scheduled to take place from May 25-May 30, 2019.  The letter strongly urges the Governor to abide by Florida’s Constitution and to not hold a cabinet meeting during the scheduled trip. Hosting a cabinet meeting in an overseas location that is inaccessible to most Floridians, violates Article I § 24 of the Florida Constitution and F.S.A. § 286.011 (The Florida Sunshine Law), and may expose members of the cabinet who attend to criminal penalties.

The Florida Sunshine Law stipulates that:

“all meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government […] at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public […]. All meetings […] at which official acts are to be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, and no resolution, rule, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such meeting.”

Florida promotes transparency and open government by providing a right of access to government proceedings, protecting the public from ‘closed door’ politics and guaranteeing that public meetings are open to the public. The Florida Constitution requires that “all meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government […] at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public […].”

In addition to concern for the lack of public access, the coalition is highly alarmed by the pattern of denied entry to Palestinian-Americans (and other Arab- and Muslim Americans) who are citizens of Florida, and who routinely confront travel/visa and discrimination issues when entering Israel. The pattern of discrimination against Palestinian-Americans traveling to Israel reached a point of such severity, that in 2015 the U.S. State Department issued a statement of concern over the treatment of US citizens: “Many Palestinian nationals or dual nationals seeking to enter via Ben Gurion have been sent back to the United States upon arrival, forfeiting expensive airline tickets. Since then, prominent Americans continue to be questioned or denied entry to Israel as a result of their criticism of Israel’s policies and human rights abuses.  As an elected official, we expect Governor DeSantis to speak out against blatant policies that discriminate against US citizens.

We call on the Governor of Florida to protect the legitimacy of Florida’s Constitution and defend open government policies. We hold the institutions that are in place to safeguard government transparency of the utmost importance. Elected officials in particular have a responsibility to be open with their constituency about the decisions and policies that directly impact the citizens they claim to serve. It is the obligation of Governor DeSantis to act in the best interest of Floridians and host the cabinet meeting in an open-meeting environment, in accordance with the Florida laws that the Governor swore to uphold and protect.

 

For press inquiries please contact: Media@adc.org 

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