The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 1:00 am

Florida leadership: Less than promised

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in October to boast of luring disgruntled police officers from New York.

He claimed they wanted to get away from Democratic politicians and he was happy to support them.

The officers joined him at the news conference, which was eagerly covered by Florida news outlets.

But student journalists at the University of Florida did the follow-up. The students, part of the university's Fresh Take Florida journalism program, investigated the backgrounds of the new Florida hires and found they weren't prize recruits.

“One of the officers DeSantis spotlighted had been fired from his job as a security guard at Wal-Mart,” wrote Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel. “Another had been disciplined by the NYPD for interfering with a citizen trying to record police during an incident in Brooklyn. Yet another had been part of an excessive force lawsuit that New York paid $178,000 to settle. Others had 'mysterious gaps in their resumes.' ”

DeSantis, who was in Fort Wayne in August to meet with about two dozen local Republicans, has a record of holding news conferences that offer less than the full story, according to the Sentinel columnist. In September, he held a press event to announce he was ordering Florida's secretary of state to conduct an “investigation” into Facebook.

What he neglected to mention was that Secretary of State Laurel Lee had earlier said she lacked authority to conduct investigations and had no investigators on her staff. DeSantis also has held news conferences to boast of Florida's low COVID-19 infection numbers, neglecting to mention his state remains in the top 10 for deaths per capita.

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