For a while now, Tallahassee attorney Seven R. Andrews has been trying to prove that Gov. Rick Scott has used his private Gmail account to circumvent his way around Florida's public records law. Andrews even asked the courts to have Google to turn over basic information about Scott's private email accounts. Andrews had Google subpoenaed.
But Scott, who denied the allegations, had his lawyers fight the subpoena.
A judge was ready to rule on the case, but Scott asked him to withhold ruling until after the November election. Scott won reelection, and now the emails have been released and, turns out, Scott was lying about not using them for administrative purposes.
Now that the emails are a matter of public record -- the AP was able to get them from Scott's office -- a spokesman for the governor has acknowledged via a statement that Scott did, in fact, do what he said he didn't.
The statement itself is rife with ambiguous wording, saying that "after a thorough review of this old email account, there were occasions the governor failed to forward messages."
The statement also says that the email account Scott used is now closed, and his personal email account is only given to his family.
According to the AP, the emails in question are from 2011 and 2012, with a few from 2013. Some of the emails were exchanges with former Scott Chief of Staff Steve MacNamara, and dealt with state budget matters and Scott's speeches.
In one, MacNamara wrote Scott about the awful state of the university system:
"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."
No laws are necessarily broken when a governor or public servant has a private email, but a Florida law says you must turn them over if someone asks for them.
Andrews's lawsuit, however, says that Scott violated Florida's public records law while disputing about land. Andrews contends that he wanted to purchase some land where his law office is located. But Scott wants the lad to build a museum on it. The land is adjacent to the historic home of former Florida governor LeRoy Collins. Andrews, who won the first lawsuit, says that Scott didn't become interested in the land until Andrews expressed interest in buying it.
The lawsuit is being appealed.
Andrews has also been alleging that Scott's staff had been encouraged to use Gmail accounts to get around Florida's public records law. Things got even more heated when other emails from MacNamara surfaced.
A judge told Scott to stop fighting the subpoena and to hand over the details being requested. Andrews himself contacted Google and subpoenaed them.
But Scott went and got a lawyer in California to fight the subpoena in Google's own backyard.
Google then contacted Andrews, telling the lawyer that no action would be taken until a court ruled on the petition.
Scott's lawyers filed notice for a November 7 hearing -- three days after the election, which Andrews called a stall tactic.
In October, Scott skipped out on a scheduled deposition on the matter in California, and attended a reelection fundraiser instead.
When asked for comment on the email dump on Tuesday, Andrews told the AP he wasn't surprised. "The governor is fighting the subpoena request so vigorously., he said"
Andrews again called it a "clear public records violation."
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