State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is urging a Leon County circuit judge to dismiss claims against him in a lawsuit that challenges Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial decision to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts.
Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, filed the lawsuit last month, alleging violations of the state Constitution and a separate law.
The case named Patronis as a defendant, along with DeSantis, the Florida Department of Transportation and Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue. But in a motion filed Monday, Patronis’ attorney, D. Ty Jackson, argued that the chief financial officer should not be a defendant in the case.
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The lawsuit stems from DeSantis’ decision to fly about 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard. Two flights with the migrants started in San Antonio, Texas, stopped at an airport in the Northwest Florida community of Crestview, and then headed north to Massachusetts.
A section of the state budget directed $12 million to the Department of Transportation “for implementing a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.”
The section also said the “department may, upon the receipt of at least two quotes, negotiate and enter into contracts with private parties, including common carriers, to implement the program.”
Pizzo’s lawsuit cited part of the Florida Constitution and said “substantive” policies are required to be approved in separate laws, rather than through the budget.
But in the motion to dismiss, Patronis’ attorney wrote that the chief financial officer “is not the official or agency of government charged with enforcement or implementation” of the part of the budget involved in the lawsuit.