What Was in Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Conveniently Deleted Emails?

Scott's lips are sealed

From the moment Floridians heard that the penalties for Gov. Rick Scott (Tea/GOP) “losing” emails sent to and from his transition team ranged from a $500 fine to IMPEACHMENT (yeah, baby!), the story grabbed our attention in the way a big, juicy, limping mouse claims the attention of a cat on a diet.

Now Florida Democrats are starting to have fun with that mouse, launching the Rick Scott Email Recovery Fund to help track down the missing missives.

Here’s what happened. Scott, as is his wont, privatized communication handling during the two months after he bought the election and before he was inaugurated. During this time, he was assembling his cabinet and staff, and determining his administration’s agenda. Almost of these emails concerning the public’s business were deleted in mid-January, immediately after Scott took office.

That’s the short version. The long version has us smelling a rat.

  • A company named Harris Media was hired by Scott to handle online communication for the transition team, and they in turn, contracted with a company called Rackspace to set up and serve email accounts. Harris Media’s vice president is Allison Guimard, aka Allison Scott, as in the governor’s daughter.
  • The entire story only came to light after a pubic records request for transition emails from a reporter was stonewalled, despite the governor’s office knowing about the deletion since it happened. In April, Chris Kise, Scott’s transition team attorney and public records advisor, sent a letter to those on the transition team asking them to keep their own copies of any emails in their personal accounts intact. He then turned over to the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times “every email,” saying, “We’ve captured most everything.” The papers were given 69 emails Scott sent and 78 he received. Total. For two months. For between 40 and 50 (the governor’s office can’t exactly say) email accounts.
  • Scott has decreed that an investigation into his own seeming malfeasance will take place, to be handled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Democrats and others are requesting it be undertaken instead by a party that does not answer directly to the governor.

The lesson Scott seems to have taken from the growing scandal is that the best way to deal with public records laws is to circumvent them.

Scott said Thursday that he rarely e-mailed during the transition. “I didn’t do e-mail much,” he said. “When you run for office you don’t have any time to do it. Even after that, I tried to make sure we complied with all the open records things. The easiest way is to primarily do things by phone so you don’t make a mistake.”

If you don’t think Scott is saying that it’s better to talk over the phone and leave no trace than comply “with all the open records things,” (which you and I would call “laws”) as a way around the public’s right to know, then there’s this. Here is the statement, in small type, at the bottom of the form provided to email the governor at his official web site.

Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

Newsflash to the “entity”: Putting it in writing won’t dodge “all the open records things” either.

Scott just can’t seem to get his head around the fact that this whole “running government like a business” thing is just a metaphor. You can’t literally run government as if it were only answerable to its executives and board members. But the man who earned the nickname “5th Amendment Rick” by refusing to answer questions 75 times in one deposition related to the biggest Medicare fraud case in American history is unlikely to change his ways now.

Which leaves us all wondering what was in those emails.


  • Russ
    August 27, 2011 - 1:47 am | Permalink

    They were all free Cialis offers.

  • lageorgia
    August 28, 2011 - 7:44 am | Permalink

    Information on his hair club for men membership

  • joesdaughter
    August 28, 2011 - 4:26 pm | Permalink

    …and a couple from his Nigerian Barrister.

  • Paul Bowie
    September 5, 2011 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Surely the state uses some kind of software that catches email and searches for hotwords etc
    Or even does Journaling where every email that comes in and goes out is a copy is captured.

    if not WHY Not !!

    but I believe the state of Florida has this software for e-discovery

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