Ron DeSantis has long warned about Chinese land purchases in the U.S.
However, his administration has repeatedly refused to fund a Florida state program designed to stop exactly that.
The Military Base Protection Program is a Florida initiative that allows the state to buy land for the explicit purpose of protecting military installations against encroachment from foreign adversaries purchasing that land.
“It’s been around for a long time. It hasn’t been funded in a long time, ” Terrance McCaffrey, vice president of military and defense programs at Enterprise Florida, testified in a February Florida Senate committee hearing. McCaffrey said it’s only been funded once, in 2014.
The Military Base Protection Program has been used to combat Chinese land purchases. McCaffrey testified that it was used to buy a property directly “next to the fence line” at Naval Support Activity Panama City, where Navy SEALs train.
The company trying to purchase it was a “Chinese company,” according to McCaffrey, and they “could have watched what we were doing with SEAL training” if the purchase went through.
Another purchase by the program stopped development of land “off the end of the runway” at MacDill Air Force Base. If not stopped, that development would have shut down use of the runway at a key air force base.
DeSantis spoke out about Chinese land purchases at the same time that this program was unfunded. He has signed executive orders and laws to stop foreign purchases of land in Florida, yet there was an existing solution in the state that he simply didn’t fund.
McCaffrey said during the hearing that “every year” the task force behind the program sends a request to the state government and every year it remains unfunded. “This program, if funded, can do some good work,” McCaffrey said during the hearing.