Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly met with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security following the revelation in the Mueller Report “that ‘at least one’ Florida county had its election information accessed by Russian hackers in 2016.” DeSantis later said that he had been briefed on the Russian hackers’ election breach, but could not name the counties that had been breached because the FBI had required him to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
CREW requested a copy of the NDA that DeSantis was referring to from the FBI and the Florida governor’s office. CREW also requested documents that would identify which counties had their election information breached.
The federal government’s use of non-disclosure agreements is highly unusual and legally questionable. Experts have suggested that Florida’s public records law makes NDAs non-enforceable. If the FBI used an NDA here, that would be even more questionable given that it prevented the public from better understanding how efforts to breach their election systems could be stopped in future elections.
The requested records will at a minimum, provide Florida citizens with the identities of the affected counties, and help the public understand election vulnerabilities and how they can be addressed for the 2020 election. It is of great public interest to see the NDA that DeSantis signed and seeing it may explain why it was necessary.
On September 19, 2019, CREW appealed the August 20, 2019 determination of the FBI in the FOIA request below. Read the appeal here.