Emails sent and received during Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) transition into the governor’s mansion were accidentally deleted soon after he took office, the Miami Herald reports.
Scott’s office acknowledged last week that the emails were inadvertently deleted. But it’s not exactly clear how many emails were deleted, or how exactly it happened.
A private company managing the accounts deleted the emails as early as mid-January, the Herald reports. Chris Kise, an attorney who served on Scott’s transition team, told the Herald that as many as 50 email accounts — including Scott’s — were deleted. Deleting the emails was a mistake, he said.
“As with most things, in hindsight it is relatively easy for me to see the mistake and to understand how to avoid same in the future,” Kise said. “But that is true of all mistakes.”
Kise did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment. He has encouraged Scott’s office to take action to ensure similar misteps don’t happen in the future.
The emails, the Herald reports, covered everything from the governor’s stationery to hiring decisions to a meeting with a state Supreme Court justice. When the paper requested the emails, it only obtained 69 emails Scott sent, and 78 that he received.
There’s nothing so far to suggest anything suspicious, but Barbara Peterson, president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, told TPM it’s part of a larger issue.
“We have struggled with Scott’s administration over access to public records from the very beginning, and this looks like part of a pattern,” she said. “I’m not saying the destruction was intentional; I’m saying that Scott and his staff don’t seem to care much about our constitutional right of access.”
The transition emails fall under the same public records law as the governor’s office, according to the Florida Department of State. The Department of State did not return TPM’s request for comment. But Scott on Friday called for an investigation into the deleted emails.
The ACLU of Florida weighed in on the issue, with executive director Howard Simon calling the deleted emails the “latest chapter in the Scott administration’s ongoing saga of disregard for the constitutional requirement of open government.”
Scott’s office did not return TPM’s requests for comment.
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com