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Taxpayers finance political stunts by California, Florida and Texas governors

This story appeared on Calmatters

In summary

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s feud with the Republican governors of Florida and Texas continues. Meanwhile, taxpayers from the three states are paying for their stunts.

The cross-country game of oneupmanship between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Republican governors of Florida and Texas is becoming more intense with every passing week.

The latest move from Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott is to send planes and buses full of Latin American migrants to California cities.

Newsom – backed by Attorney General Rob Bonta – has threatened legal or even criminal action for what they described as virtual kidnappings.

“I know one was on the basis of all the interviews and all the facts that are now in evidence,” Newsom said on NBC’s “Today” show after a plane brought immigrants to Sacramento. “Now we have to prove it.

“They’re human beings used as pawns for a guy’s political advancement. That’s pretty sad and pathetic,” Newsom continued. “This is California – fourth- or fifth-largest economy on planet Earth. We mean business. And so Ron DeSantis should know that.”

Bonta has fired off demands to Florida for details about the decision to send the migrants to California, and tweeted, “State-sanctioned kidnapping is immoral.”

DeSantis and Abbott contend that those sent to California agreed to being transported and their actions illustrate the Biden administration’s lack of action on border security.

“Texas border towns are overwhelmed & overrun because of Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott tweeted. “Texas buses migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities like LA to provide relief to our border communities. We will continue this effort until Biden secures the border.”

Predictably, the episode triggered another round of vitriol.

After Newsom denounced DeSantis, a presidential hopeful, again during a Fox News interview last week, DeSantis unloaded on Newsom during a bill-signing ceremony last week saying he “has a real serious fixation on the state of Florida. I think it’s just bizarre that he does that. What I would tell him is – you know what, stop pussyfooting around. Are you going to throw your hat into the ring and challenge Joe (Biden)?”

“Are you going to get in and do it, or are you going to sit on the sidelines and chirp?” DeSantis continued. “So why don’t you throw your hat into the ring, and then we’ll go ahead and talk about what’s happening.”

Florida and Texas taxpayers are financing the planes and buses that ferry migrants to California, and a little-noticed order by a federal judge revealed that one Newsom gesture is costing Californians more than a half-million dollars.

After Texas enacted a law to authorize private lawsuits against anyone who aborted a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, and made it virtually impossible to defend such a suit, Newsom persuaded the California Legislature to pass a copycat measure affecting manufacturers of banned firearms.

At the time, Newsom acknowledged that it was a stunt designed to highlight the absurdity of the Texas law rather than a serious expression of policy.

The Texas law has survived legal challenges so far, but the California law was quickly voided by federal Judge Roger Benitez as unconstitutional because it would have required defendants to pay the costs of litigation even if they won.

Newsom, who had been sharply critical of Benitez for previous gun rights decisions, praised the judge’s rejection of the law he had championed, saying, “I want to thank Judge Benitez. We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional.”

Later, Benitez awarded the gun rights groups which had challenged the California law almost $557,000 in attorney fees – money they can use to pursue many other challenges to  California gun controls.

Taxpayers, not Newsom, are paying the price for his stunt.

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