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 for anything.”
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 signing letters.
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.”