May 29 (UPI) -- Advocates and news media are suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a trip to Israel this week, where he met with state cabinet officials for an "information gathering" session Wednesday.
The First Amendment Foundation and media outlets are targeting DeSantis and other state officials for the meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The Second Circuit Court of Florida denied an emergency motion to stop the meeting from happening because DeSantis and his cabinet couldn't be reached for a summons.
The suit faults DeSantis for convening a meeting abroad and not making it open to the public.
"The meeting is being held over 6,000 miles away from the citizens of Florida, and in a secured U.S. State Department facility for which the public does not have ready access," the complaint states. "Holding a meeting at this distance in such a facility violates the constitutional and statutory rights of Florida citizens (and the news media) to personally observe the workings of, and for the public to offer comment to, their state's highest officials."
The Times Publishing Company, Gannett, The Miami Herald Media Company and Gateway House Media are part of the lawsuit.
The meeting included DeSantis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis and Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.
DeSantis said the gathering doesn't violate state law because cabinet members didn't discuss board or agency business. Officials said the meeting, livestreamed by public broadcaster The Florida Channel, was considered an "information gathering" session.
"But even crediting this view, the law is clear that 'information gathering' sessions fall within the [law's] requirements," the complaint notes.
DeSantis traveled to Israel with a 90-person trade delegation Sunday to sign agreements for space technology, agriculture, protecting water and cybersecurity.
"Holding a meeting of the Florida Cabinet in the embassy in Jerusalem, that is going to be a real neat thing," DeSantis said ahead of the meeting.
Monday, he became the first sitting governor to visit Judea and Samaria, and signed a memorandum of understanding between Ariel and Florida State University.