Three members of the Legislature likely will accompany Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet on a trip to Israel later this month – Republican state Rep. Randy Fine, Democratic Rep. Joseph Geller, and Democratic Sen. Lauren Book.
Some 75 people are expected to go on the trip, DeSantis said last week. The Phoenix filed a public records request on April 16 seeking documents about what the group will be doing, how they will be getting there, and how much it will cost. But the governor’s office hadn’t released any as of midday Monday. DeSantis’ press office says officials are digging through a backlog of public records requests in the order received.
Geller and Fine both confirmed that the three planned to attend. The Phoenix couldn’t reach Book for comment.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others added as well,” Fine said Monday during a telephone interview.
Here’s what we do know: The trip, scheduled for May 25-31, will include trade talks and a Florida Cabinet meeting, with a live video link to Tallahassee so that Floridians who can’t make the 6,000-plus mile trip can participate. The Cabinet includes Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Nikki Fried, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The party will visit Tel Aviv and the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Fine said he already had his copy of the meeting agenda. “I’ve had my plans made for a month,” he said. “There’s an organizational agenda,” including, in his case, meetings by the legislative delegation, plus flight and hotel arrangements.
“My purpose in going is to assist the governor in reaching out to the Jewish people of Florida,” and to learn about medical, space, and water systems technology “that we could leverage here in Florida.”
Fine represents Brevard County; Geller represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and Book represents coastal Broward County.
The Phoenix asked the governor’s press aides Monday whether DeSantis is concerned about making the trip in light of violence that erupted Sunday between Israel and Gaza. Palestinian rocket and missile attacks killed four Israelis and Israeli strikes claimed 11 Palestinian lives, The New York Times reported. A cease-fire had been established by Monday.
Fine, for one, wasn’t about to change his plans. “It’s good to show we’re not going to let Islamic terrorists deter us from going,” he said.