Hit by a wave of technical issues Wednesday, the most politicized of the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s working groups was forced to reschedule for Thursday morning.
But Gov. Ron DeSantis believes the seemingly innocent IT blip, all too common as meetings shift electronically amid coronavirus social distancing measures, may not have been so innocent.
“It didn’t just happen,” DeSantis told reporters later Wednesday. “There was something that caused that, and it may have been intentional, so we’re looking into that.”
Pressed to expound, the Governor gave a little more line: “They don’t think that it was just something — that it was just a snafu. They think it may have been something that was caused.”
Three task force working groups were slated to meet telephonically that morning, including one encompassing agriculture and other industries described as low risk for COVID-19 spread. The first presentation began 41 minutes into the call after the first round of difficulties, but the task force called a mulligan after only four more minutes.
With DeSantis’ choice to not hand Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried leadership of the working group — rather, his choice to leave her off the task force altogether — Fried and fellow Democrats called the decision to leave her off political. But the Governor tapped Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson, an egg farmer empaneled on the task force, who he said was able to represent that sector just fine.
Helen Aguirre Ferre, DeSantis’ spokeswoman, said the administration could not share why it believed the torpedoing of the task force call may have been intentional, but she assured Florida Politics that the administration was taking every precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Originally rescheduled for noon Wednesday, a followup call never happened. The breakout group will hold a new phone call at 10 a.m. Thursday.
It was not immediately clear whether the lost day put the task force behind schedule to return its initial findings by Friday, as the Governor has charged it.