By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Gov. Rick Scott’s office handed over public records showing the newly re-elected governor has in fact used a private email account to conduct public business.
The Associated Press reports that three months after it filed a public records request, the governor’s office handed over information showing that Scott used his private email account for state buisness.
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.
…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.
…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.
The AP’s Gary Fineout reports that the documents received show Scott communicating with his chief of staff, Steve Macnamara, about a 2012 bill that would have let the University of Florida and Florida State University raise their tuition more than is allowed in state statute. MacNamara unsuccessfully tried to persuade Scott to sign the bill.
Fineout reports that 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.”
Other emails discussed language he wanted to be used in his veto messages and bill signing letters.
This follows an ongoing battle between Scott and Tallahassee-based attorney Steven Andrews over the Scott administration’s use of private accounts for public work.
Andrews, who has been locked in an ongoing legal battle with Scott involving a land dispute, has said getting courts involved is the only way to get information about what the governor’s office is up to.
Scott has been fighting the release of any information about those email accounts, though.
This past August, a judge ruled Google and Yahoo will have to turn over some information about the private email accounts. Scott then hired an attorney in California to fight the release of information.
Late last month, Scott missed his deposition for this case because he was campaigning for re-election.