Amidst public outrage about recent mass shootings, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a sports facility proposal, seemingly in response to an affiliated team’s decision to partner with a gun violence prevention group, raising serious questions about DeSantis’ use of his public office to penalize those who don’t serve his political agenda.

The new sports facility in Pasco County was under consideration to become the Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training site. In March 2022, Florida lawmakers had proposed the allocation of $35 million towards building it. Then, after the May mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the Rays announced a partnership with gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety.

A week later, DeSantis—who was endorsed by the NRA during his gubernatorial campaign—vetoed the legislature’s  proposal. DeSantis’ rationale that the money should be spent for the Florida public’s benefit, not a single company or franchise, was inconsistent with the actual terms of the proposal, which classified the facility as a public space during the Rays’ offseason.

CREW has requested records for communications from DeSantis’ office and the Florida Senate on funding for the  Pasco County facility, including but not limited to mentions of political activism, gun control, the Tampa Bay Rays or vetoing funding.

This wouldn’t be the first time that DeSantis used his power to punish a corporation for political reasons—in April 2022, DeSantis signed a bill revoking Disney’s “independent special district” status in response to the CEO announcing his support for repealing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The requested records will clarify DeSantis’ reasons for vetoing the new Pasco County sports facility’s funding and if DeSantis was placing his own personal or political interests over those of the public.

Public records requests

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