Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending his use of a private jet owned by a South Florida real estate billionaire to fly on a recent trip to New York City to try to attract new businesses to Florida.

“It was done within the accordance of the law,” DeSantis insisted Tuesday morning following a Cabinet meeting. “So it’s not me getting anything. There was no favor done. It was done through the proper legal channels.”

The trip in question occurred on February 28 and involved the use of the personal jet belonging to Aventura real estate executive Jeffrey Soffer, who owns the Fontainebleau resort hotel in Miami Beach and the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.

The Republican Party of Florida chartered and paid for the use of Soffer’s aircraft, which he also flew on with the governor.  Although Soffer has business dealings with the state and had direct access to the governor during the flight, DeSantis says Soffer received nothing more than the cost of the flight.

“It was not something provided as a gift or anything,” DeSantis said. “It was done where the funds were provided from the state party to follow the of what’s required there. That’s just what the law is and, so, I don’t think it is going to involve anything.”

DeSantis says he’s known Soffer for awhile and describes the use of the private jet as being “it is what it is.” He views such trips as critical to the state’s efforts to attract new business to Florida and to expand the state’s economic base.

“Being able to go up. Being able to meet with some pretty significant movers and shakers who are interested to bringing business to Florida,” DeSantis added.

The governor says the used Beechcraft King Air prop plane that is currently used to shuttle him around the state could never had made the day trip to New York City and back.

“This Squirt Force One that we have here,” DeSantis jokingly referred to the state aircraft. “That’s not going to get to New York. It would need two refuelings. It’s actually been being repaired a lot lately, as well.”

“This didn’t cost the taxpayer anything,” the governor added.

“I’ve told my folks with any of these things, it’s all got to be done within the accordance by the book — legal, ethical —  and if it’s not, we’re just not going to do it,” DeSantis said. But this clearly was legit, it was vetted and it was done through state state party as allowed by state law.”

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