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Palm Beach COVID Compliance Team Investigating DeSantis Event For Maskless Crowd

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — Palm Beach County's COVID Compliance Team is investigating an event Governor Ron DeSantis held at a West Palm Beach hotel Friday morning for violating the county's masking and social distancing rules.

The governor spoke indoors in front of a mostly maskless crowd about election reform bills he supports in the next legislative session.

A spokesperson for Palm Beach County sent our sister station CBS12 News the following statement:

"Approximately 15 minutes before the Governor's 10:00 am press event this morning at the Airport Hilton, we were informed that a large audience (approximately 100-150) was in attendance and numerous individuals were not wearing facial coverings or masks. We immediately dispatched a CECT representative to the event. We have spoken to Hilton management and will be following up with them and event organizers in accordance with our normal compliance procedures."

Under the Governor's executive orders, an individual cannot be fined for refusing to wear a mask.

The only enforcement action Palm Beach County can take is fining the Hilton Hotel on Australian Avenue for violating the county mask mandate.

The governor's office issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

"Governor DeSantis' executive order suspending the collection of fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 enforced upon individuals remains in place."

DeSantis held the event to discuss election reforms, and said he wants to increase security around drop boxes, prevent so called "ballot harvesting" and make it illegal for someone to drop off another person's mail in ballot.

While touting Florida's efficiency and transparency in the 2020 election, DeSantis said he wants to prevent certain practices from happening in the sunshine state, like mailing out "mass unsolicited mail in ballots."

Senator Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton spoke to CBS12 News about the controversy over the Governor's event, and his proposals for election reform.

"It's really unfortunate that no one is role modeling the proper behavior in that group," Sen. Polsky said. "You have the governor of the state not looking out for his constituents."

Polsky said she supports Palm Beach County taking action against the Hilton and event organizers for the ordinance violations.

She also criticized the Governor's election reforms, calling them a partisan effort that would suppress voter participation, especially among seniors who vote by mail in large numbers. She said the legislation contains "solutions in search of a problem."

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