DeSantis sent migrants to Martha's Vineyard. Here are 5 other moments Florida governor went viral
Florida governor arguably has amassed more political clout within the GOP than any of his predecessors.
- This went viral: DeSantis faced backlash for telling students to remove their masks
- After Disney's CEO vowed to repeal "Don't Say Gay" bill, DeSantis asked lawmakers to punish Disney
Gov. Ron DeSantis is no stranger to controversy.
On Wednesday, the Florida governor sent almost 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts to protest President Biden and illegal immigration.
A spokeswoman confirmed the move, part of a $12 million program the state authorized to remove undocumented immigrants.
“States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, said.
While DeSantis ordered the transportation of the foreign nationals, initial reports from the island were less clear about the reasons for them being sent to Massachusetts and where they came from.
DeSantis sends migrants to Martha's Vineyard, lashing out against President Biden's border policy
The Cape Cod Times reported the migrants had been put on a plane with nothing more than a brochure from the island’s community services center — about two miles from the airport. The arrivals then walked from the airport to the center, officials said.
Here are other times DeSantis had national Twitter abuzz.
'Don't Say Gay' bill, Stop WOKE Act
In March, DeSantis signed into law new restrictions on discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida schools, derided by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and one of the most battled-over pieces of legislation this session.
The measure drew criticism from the LGBTQ community nationwide, Hollywood and the White House, and even drew walkouts in schools across the state from students concerned about its potential impact.
The legislation was ridiculed by hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall during their opening comments at the 94th annual Academy Awards.
What does it mean to be 'woke,' and why does Florida Governor Ron DeSantis want to stop it?
But DeSantis defended the prohibition as helping parents control their children’s education. The legislation was formally titled Parental Rights in Education.
“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” DeSantis said.
Click here to read the full story by John Kennedy of USA TODAY Network-Florida's Capital Bureau.
DeSantis vs. Disney
In April, DeSantis signed a bill to strip the Walt Disney Co. the authority to govern its 37-mile Central Florida entertainment empire.
DeSantis had called on lawmakers to punish Disney for its CEO’s vow to repeal a Parents’ Rights in Education law approved in March.
Critics said that law, which has been derided as the "Don't Say Gay bill," is hostile to LGBTQ+ youth and exposes school districts to lawsuits.
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"You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that," DeSantis said at the bill signing.
Click here to read the full story about DeSantis dismantling special Disney district by USA TODAY Network-Florida reporter James Call.
DeSantis unchained: Disney fight shows a powerful governor, emboldened and vengeful
DeSantis chastises students for wearing masks
Irked by the sight of high school students wearing masks during a March press conference at the University of South Florida, DeSantis encouraged them to remove the facial coverings, calling their use “COVID theater.”
"You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis said in video captured by WFLA News Channel 8, Tampa’s NBC station. “Please take them off. Honestly, it's not doing anything. We've gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous."
At least two students removed their masks at the governor's request, according to the video.
The governor had outlawed mask mandates in Florida schools. His remarks to the students was evidence of his disdain for voluntary mask-wearing, and distrust of the science behind it.
Click here to read the full story by Zac Anderson, a USA TODAY Network-Florida journalist based at the Herald Tribune.
Florida becomes first state to recommend not giving kids COVID vaccine
Defying guidance from the nation's top infectious disease and pediatric health experts, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced in March that the state would become the first to recommend that healthy kids not get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Ladapo made the announcement at the end of a roundtable discussion in West Palm Beach that Gov. Ron DeSantis convened to discuss "failures" in the response to COVID-19.
Florida “is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said, without elaborating on the details or rationale for the forthcoming guidance from the state Department of Health.
Click here to read the full story.
Fired COVID data scientist Rebekah Jones
In May 2020, Rebekah Jones, the scientist who created Florida's COVID-19 data portal wasn't just removed from her position, she said she was fired by the Florida Department of Health for refusing to manipulate data.
Rebekah Jones said in an email to FLORIDA TODAY that she single-handedly created two applications in two languages, four dashboards, six unique maps with layers of data functionality for 32 variables covering a half a million lines of data. Her objective was to create a way for Floridians and researchers to see what the COVID-19 situation was in real time.
Then, she was dismissed.
Rebekah Jones:Florida scientist said she was fired for 'refusing to manipulate' COVID-19 data
What followed was a public fight between Jones, the state department of health and DeSantis.
DeSantis slammed Jones, questioning her credentials and painting her as a disruptive employee and a criminal.
In December 2020, state police brandishing firearms raided her home in Tallahassee.
"They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids," Jones tweeted.
A video accompanying the post shows Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in vests at the front door with guns drawn, asking who else was in the house. She said her husband and two children were inside as they escorted her out of the house.
Rebekah Jones raid:Agents search home of fired Florida data scientist who built COVID-19 dashboard
FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger sent a statement confirming the seizure of computer equipment at Jones' home.
Jones tweeted: "They took my phone and the computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire country. They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the Gestapo."
Click here to read the story.
Contributing: Jim Waymer and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, FLORIDA TODAY; Jeffrey Schweers, Tallahassee Democrat
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