Rep. Ben Diamond is again expressing outrage that Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing to forego holding a meeting of his Cabinet.
DeSantis cancelled a scheduled May 12 meeting of the group of statewide elected officials who oversee a dozen state agencies and several state funds.
“It is disappointing Governor DeSantis continues to cancel meetings of the Florida Cabinet, despite his own extensive statewide travel and meetings. He expressly authorized local governments across Florida to meet virtually during this emergency, and those meetings have provided Floridians with accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for public comment,” Diamond said.
DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-69 authorized local governments to “utilize communications media technology, such as telephonic and video conferencing” in order to adhere to social distancing recommendations aimed at limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. City and county governments across the state have been using platforms like Zoom to host meetings, with call in and web links available to facilitate public comment.
“If local governments can meet virtually, then why can’t the Florida Cabinet? This is a moment for leadership, collaboration, and government-in-the-sunshine. We need to see our independently elected Cabinet members working collaboratively as the Florida Constitution requires,” Diamond said.
Diamond has been calling for Cabinet meetings since the virus starting forcing closures and increased social distancing measures statewide in late March. He penned a letter to CFO Jimmy Patronis, a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, on March 23 asking for a meeting. He followed up with another letter to DeSantis on April 10.
“Florida’s independently elected Cabinet officers are fiduciaries that oversee the work of a dozen state agencies. The public oversight of these agencies is critical — particularly during an emergency of this magnitude,” Diamond wrote in his initial letter to Patronis.
Specifically, Diamond said the four statewide elected leaders should discuss efforts to ensure law enforcement have personal protective equipment; verify that the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs is providing any available assistance to veterans suffering from the virus; ensure that financial and insurance regulators are protecting and assisting Floridians; and consider recommendations from the Division of Bond Finance on how state debt should be managed at this time.
The St. Petersburg Democrat particularly emphasized the oversight needs for the Florida Retirement System, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, and funds invested for local government entities.
The Cabinet has not met since the beginning of February.
The Cabinet also includes Attorney General Ashley Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.