Florida Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill for DeSantis’ Legal Woes

Florida Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill for DeSantis’ Legal Woes

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By Giselle Balido

July 7, 2023

As Floridians struggle with rising rent and property insurance costs, DeSantis spends millions in taxpayer dollars to defend his culture war policies from lawsuits—and he is doing it with the help of Republican lawmakers.

“This governor does not care,” reads a headline featured in a video shared last Friday by a Twitter account affiliated with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign. 

In that context, the headline refers to the governor’s disregard for those who care to protect LGBTQ rights across the state. 

But on closer inspection, it appears that DeSantis’ indifference to what some of his constituents think extends to the impact some of his more extreme policies are having on average Floridians. 

In fact, experts say DeSantis is costing Florida millions in taxpayer dollars—and he is doing it with the help of Republican lawmakers.

By the Numbers

Over the past three years, DeSantis has embarked on a series of culture war-focused policy efforts, including his controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a six-week abortion ban, and efforts to restrict the teaching of African American studies. Each of these policies have been met with or resulted in costly lawsuits. 

How costly? As an example, DeSantis’ legal fight against Disney following the company’s condemnation of his anti-LGBTQ laws is costing the governor’s team nearly $1,300 per hour in legal fees.

RELATED: Disney Abandons Plans for New Campus in Florida, Costing State 2,000 Jobs

In another case, the DeSantis administration paid an elite Washington DC-based law firm $725 hourly to defend his “anti-woke” law limiting classroom instruction of racial issues. As of June 2022, the state authorized nearly $2.8 million for legal services from this law firm alone, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A Win-Win Situation

DeSantis’ goal, Bob Jarvis, a law professor from Nova Southeastern University, told the Guardian, is to pass unconstitutional laws and set up legal challenges. Because even if he loses, DeSantis still wins by claiming that the judges want children exposed to drag shows, or to be “groomed” to be gay. 

While those claims are clearly ridiculous and frequently veer into outright homophobia, they’ve become commonplace among conservative politicians and voters. And according to Jarvis, DeSantis can use these legal disputes to make the case for himself as a strong presidential candidate who will get rid of judges who disagree with him and replace them with socially conservative ones.

Deep Pockets at the Taxpayers’ Expense

As the Republican governor fights the mounting lawsuits, the state’s supermajority Republican legislature has continued to provide him with funds to cover the legal costs, allegedly approving an additional $16 million for DeSantis to “be in a comfortable position to speak his mind.”

RELATED: Rep. Susan Valdés: ‘We Are Focusing on Culture Wars That Have Nothing to Do With Everyday Floridians’ Needs’

“Taxpayers are paying to foot the bills to pass unconstitutional bills and to keep up with his petty vengeance,” Democratic state senator Tina Polsky said.

Meanwhile, many continue to struggle in a state that, because of skyrocketing rent and insurance costs, has become unaffordable for hardworking Floridians.

“We are facing an affordability crisis in working and housing in our state, we have property insurance that people cannot afford, companies are insolvent,” Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book told Floricua. “People are having to make decisions about whether to pay for prescriptions, put food on the table, or put gas in the car. These have nothing to do with these ‘culture wars’ we’re fighting.”

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Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

CATEGORIES: POLITICS
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