ORLANDO, Fla. — When Florida’s next governor is inaugurated in January 2019, there is one asset they will not have: a jet to traverse the 65,755 square miles of what is Florida.
- Florida's next governor won't have a jet to travel the state
- Current Gov. Rick Scott uses a private jet
- Gillum, DeSantis haven't said whether they'd push to purchase an aircraft
Current Republican Governor Rick Scott employs the use of a private jet.
Records show the governor’s multi-million dollar plane, a 2008 Cessna 560XL, is owned by Columbia Collier Properties LLC, a company owned by Florida First Lady Ann Scott.
Because the Scotts privately own and operate the plane, any logs of travel or expenses are not public record.
Senate Campaign Financial records show Rick Scott’s Senate campaign has received approximately $952,909.24 in “in-kind” air charter services since April 2018, when Scott officially announced his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
Scott’s departure from office leaves the question of how his replacement plans to travel the state, without a dedicated plane.
Neither Andrew Gillum (D) nor Ron DeSantis (R) appear to have given the idea any thought.
“Right now I travel it (the state) in cars; it’s a big state, but we’ve got to get elected first,” Gillum said.
“That’ll obviously be something that we discuss and figure it out,” DeSantis said. “I can tell you it’s a big state, as you know, and I do think it’s important for the governor to get around.”
Spokespersons for the incoming leadership of the Florida Legislature also note that there have not been any previous conversations about purchasing or leasing a new aircraft for state executives.
“Once elected, the new governor will produce budget recommendations for the legislature to consider, including a budget for the operations of the Governor’s Executive Office,” Katie Betta, spokesperson for Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano said. “The President-Designate will certainly give great consideration to the recommended budget produced by the new governor.”
Neither Gillum nor DeSantis have said whether they will push for the purchase of new aircraft if elected.
In 2011, shortly after taking office, Gov. Scott fulfilled a campaign promise to sell the state’s two airplanes.
Florida Department of Management Services sold the 2000 King Air 350 for $1.7 million and the 2003 Cessna Citation Bravo for $1.9 million.
The state made $560,000 after the sale of the two planes.
The governor’s office says the plane sales and layoffs of the fleet’s 11 full-time pilots and support employees have saved Florida taxpayers $19.2 million since 2011 -- approximately $2.5 million per year.
Gov. Jeb Bush purchased the state’s previous Cessna Citation in 2003 at a price tag of $5.3 million.
It was available for state executives, including department secretaries, Agriculture Commissioner, and Chief Financial Officer.
In his campaign push to sell the planes, Scott pointed to past complaints of abuse.
In 2009, then Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum often used the planes at taxpayer expense.
Selling the planes left those working in Scott’s administration with two options to travel for work: by car or commercial airlines.
Tallahassee is not known for cheap air fare. Tallahassee Regional Airport is serviced by just three airlines: Delta, American, and Silver.
A standard search for a same-day return in an economy seat on a commercial flight found a range of prices between Tallahassee and larger in-state cities.
Silver offered a single flight, non-stop between Tallahassee and Orlando for $302. American listed flights at $464 with a connection in Miami or Washington, D.C., while Delta’s cheapest fares started at $712 with a connection in Atlanta.
In using his own plane and picking up the tab for travel costs, Scott has also skirted public record laws. Unlike past administrations that had to release logs of travel, the same is not true for Scott since it is not a publicly-owned asset he uses.
Scott has often relied upon his private jet during times of crisis. As Florida braced for Hurricane Irma in 2017, Scott made a series of state-wide stops, jumping in and out of major cities with the help of the plane.
On Feb. 14, Governor Scott was attending a political fundraiser in California when a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Hours after the shooting, Scott was in Broward County, after making the cross-country jog on his jet.