Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, held a press conference Thursday, in response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ signing of the election reform bill SB90.
Fried fired hard at DeSantis Thursday calling his recent bill signings a “cowardly act.“
“We are here again today to, unfortunately, talk about another cowardly act of this governor. Someone who in the middle of the night with no cameras with no people around him signed a piece of legislation increasing our taxes by a billion dollars,” said Fried.
“Then he signs a piece of legislation that takes away our freedoms and today he took away our rights to vote. I am outraged. You should be outraged. And more than the fact that he signed this piece of legislation today, let’s talk about how he did it,” Fried added.
“He took the state plane. The plane that you and I pay for to fly down to a location two miles from his master at Mar-a-Lago, and in front of, and inside of an area, where a Trump club located. The only people that were invited were Trump fans and supporters. This is not a press conference where people can come and have freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” said Fried. “Instead, he did this and they closed the location with only political supporters using our taxpayer dollars. With the only camera watching was Fox News. He is using Fox News as a state news source.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial elections bill into law on Thursday in an event that was unusually closed to local news reporters.
The bill signing was held at the Hilton by the Palm Beach International Airport Thursday morning and broadcasted live only on ‘Fox and Freinds’.
Members of local news outlets were not allowed inside and the governor’s staff called the event a “Fox News exclusive,” according to WPTV news.
DeSantis tweeted just after 8:30 a.m. to say he’d be joining “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning for the signing of the bill.
Columnist Steve Bousquet with the Sun-Sentinel tweeted images from outside the closed event on Twitter and said hundreds of guests were in attendance and given DeSantis campaign stickers.
“How Florida reporters cover a bill signing in the DeSantis era,” said Bousquet. “Press barred from campaign-style rally election-law restrictions at an airport hotel in West Palm Beach.”
The bill was strongly opposed by voting rights groups and Democrats who called it offensive, the Miami Herald reported. They argued the legislation will make it harder for Floridians to vote in upcoming elections.
“The League believes the bill’s sweeping changes will undoubtedly make it harder for Floridians to cast their ballot,” League of Women Voters of Florida President Patti Brigham told the Miami Herald in a statement.
However, Republican state lawmakers relented on a number of more stringent measures that had originally been included in the bill, according to the Miami Herald. It doesn’t ban drop boxes or require someone to show identification when placing their ballot in a dropbox and doesn’t introduce stricter signature verification mandates.
Minutes after DeSantis signed the bill, Democratic attorney Marc Elias said that he had filed suit against it on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans on the grounds that it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Related News: Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Elections Bill, Closed To Local Reporters