72ºF

Governor's plane ride with billionaire highlights need for state plane

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending a trip to New York on a billionaire's jet. 

The trip points out the need for the Florida governor to have access to a reliable state-owned plane.

The governor traveled from Tallahassee to New York on a jet owned by Jeffery Soffer, a South Florida billionaire with businesses regulated by the state. The trip was paid for by the Republican Party. How much is unknown.

“It’s all legal, ethical. No issues there,” DeSantis said. "We were able to get up to New York first thing in the morning. Did a whole bunch of great meetings. And then end up back late that same night.”

While the trip was paid for, critics say it gave the billionaire hotel and casino owner too much time with the governor.

"I don’t think it’s going to affect anything,” DeSantis said. "You know, I’ve known Jeffrey before this, so it is what it is.”

Florida’s previous governor sold the state's planes and traveled on his own jet. 

DeSantis said the plane he’s been using could not have made the New York trip.

“That’s not going to get to New York. It would need two refuelings. It’s actually being repaired a lot lately, as well,” said DeSantis.

Florida’s House Speaker has called for a new plane. DeSantis said it’s not up to him to make that call.

"So I’ve just stayed out of it because I don’t want to be a judge in my own cause, and stuff, so for me to be prattling on,” DeSantis said.

House Budget Chairman Travis Cummings said a new plane could be on the way.

“We recognize the need,” Cummings said.

A new plane would take away the need to travel with people who have a vested interest in having the governor captive.

The plane being used by the governor had to make an emergency landing just days after the governor took office in January.