Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By Michael Van Sickler
Published November 29, 2014
Florida Gov. Rick Scott exchanged emails dealing with
vetoes, the state budget and his speeches from a private email account,
according to records turned over to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Scott has previously said he used a Google email account to communicate
with his family and not for state business. He also said that if ever he
got an email dealing with state business he would forward it to his
public email accounts.
“If anybody sends me an email to my private account, I do the right
thing,” Scott said this past August. “I try not to use my personal email
Scott spokesman John Tupps, however, acknowledged in a statement that
“after a thorough review of this old email account, there were occasions
the governor failed to forward messages.”
“This email account is closed and the personal email account the
governor uses now has not been given out beyond his family,” Tupps said.
The Scott administration turned over the emails more than three months
after The AP first asked for them.
Most of the emails appear to be from 2011 and 2012, though there are
some also from 2013. It is not a violation of law to have a private
email account, but it would be a violation if someone asked for emails
and the governor’s office failed to turn them over.
Many emails released Tuesday include exchanges between Scott and his
former chief of staff Steve MacNamara. Some are also from his press
aides and other top officials who worked for Scott.
One set of emails concerns legislation dealing with Florida’s university
system, including an unsuccessful effort by MacNamara in 2012 to
persuade Scott to sign a bill that would have let the University of
Florida and Florida State University raise tuition above caps set in
state law. MacNamara in the same email urged Scott to veto legislation
that created Florida Polytechnic University. Scott signed it into law.
“You have inherited an awful higher ed system,” MacNamara wrote Scott.
“...To say it has been wallowing in a swamp of indifference or in
receivership these past 5 to 10 years would not be an understatement.
(Former Gov.) Jeb (Bush) could have cared less and (former Gov.) Charlie
(Crist) cared even less than Jeb. The chancellor hasn’t even asked to
sit with you and discuss the most important piece of higher ed
legislation his lifetime. We are rewarding indifference and bad behavior
and it sickens me.”
In another email. Scott thanks Alan Levine, a health care executive who
was on the UF board at the time, for defending him to a reporter writing
about changes on the UF board of trustees. A couple of the emails
include Scott sharing what he wanted in either veto messages or bill
Scott’s Google email account has been at the center of an ongoing
lawsuit filed against Scott by a Tallahassee attorney and a frequent
critic of the Republican governor
Steven Andrews is suing over records related to a dispute about land
near the governor’s mansion that Andrews wants to buy. During the course
of the ongoing legal tussle Andrews got permission from a Florida judge
to ask Google about email accounts set up by Scott and other Scott
aides. But the governor has privately hired lawyers in California to
fight the request.
When told about the emails Tuesday, Andrews said he was not “surprised
because the governor is fighting the subpoena request so vigorously” and
added that he contends this is a “clear public records violation.”