A Florida Cabinet meeting scheduled for next Tuesday has been canceled, to the displeasure of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat on the panel.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office did not immediately give a reason Wednesday for why DeSantis, Fried, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody won’t meet. The statewide elected officials have met only once since Feb. 4, with a May 28 meeting held by phone.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state, the governor’s office has pointed to the Capitol remaining closed to visitors and a need to keep a safe and healthy workplace. Fried’s office released a statement Wednesday criticizing the cancellation.
“So, it’s safe for schools to reopen, but it’s not safe to hold a Cabinet meeting? Makes sense,” Fried said in the statement.
On Monday, Fried said she wanted to hear the state’s coordinated plans to combat the coronavirus.
“The whole purpose of the public forum (at Cabinet meetings) is that the public can hear what’s happening with our bond revenues, what’s happening in the Office of Insurance Regulation, hearing from some of our folks that are on the ground,” Fried said during a news conference about a new coronavirus public-awareness campaign.
“This is a great opportunity for us to be talking about these things. And they’ll be the first time since COVID, that you will see all four of us hopefully together and discussing this pertinent issue,” Fried continued. “We are in a crisis here in our state, and it is heartbreaking that the Cabinet has not had an opportunity to discuss it amongst themselves in a public forum.”
The next Cabinet meeting is now scheduled for Sept. 22, with the panel returning the next day to meet as the state clemency board.