Kudos to Leon County Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson for ruling correctly on our right to records from the Governor's office.
SCOTT has no defense.
Note the asinine attacks on Judge Dodson's judicial independence by the staff of divisive, deceptive, devious TRUMP-loving Governor RICK SCOTT. SCOTT is our Flori-DUH Tinpot Napoleon or Louis XIV, who truly believes that "l'état, c'est moi."
SCOTT's campaign staff is now talking about appealing from an order requiring he release his calendar and travel itinerary.
Gov. Rick Scott ordered to release calendar, travel itinerary
Jeffrey Schweers, Tallahassee Democrat
Published 3:30 p.m. ET Sept. 5, 2018 | Updated 5:33 p.m. ET Sept. 5, 2018
Gov. Rick Scott has 10 days to turn over travel records and other documents related to his U.S. Senate campaign.
Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ordered the Governor’s Office to produce the documents Wednesday after hearing both sides make their arguments on Aug. 20.
“It simply is information regarding the Governor’s travel schedule,” Dodson wrote.
Scott, a Republican, is running against longtime Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Both his office and campaign staffs criticized the ruling.
"This ruling is irresponsible and puts the safety of the Governor and law enforcement at risk. We will appeal this ruling," said John Tupps, communications director for Scott. “This lawsuit was brought by a vendor who is upset that (the state) will be contracting with another service provider to offer HIV/AIDS services statewide following a transparent, competitive bid process.”
The public records request of the Governor’s Office was made on July 19 by Positive Healthcare, a Medicare Advantage health plan that specializes in prescription drug coverage for people in Broward, Duval or Miami-Dade County with a prior HIV diagnosis. The company has protested the administration’s decision to block it from negotiating a new contract.
“This is a politically motivated ruling by a liberal activist judge who is compromising the Governor’s security," said campaign spokesman Chris Hartline.
Far from a political ploy, the lawsuit and ruling are a victory for Floridians who want to hold their public servants accountable, said Imara Canady, regional director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nonprofit organization that administers the Positive Healthcare program.
"Public health issues have exploded under Gov. Scott's watch," Canady said. "Without a level of transparency, the people have no clue whether he is playing golf or conducting business deals or serving the people of Florida."
Ryan Andrews, one of the attorneys for Positive Healthcare, said the Governor's Office "may not like the ruling, but they can’t just make up exemptions out of thin air. No exemption supported or supports its argument."
The health provider asked for all calendars and other records related to Scott's campaign travel from July 20 to Oct. 31. The request asked for Scott’s electronic and hard copy calendars showing all meetings, events and appearances, all documents and records related to Scott’s travel plans, including accommodations, and a list of all campaign and fundraising events as part of Scott’s Senate campaign.
The Governor’s Office denied the request, citing the records were exempt under a section of Florida’s public records law pertaining to “any information revealing surveillance techniques or procedures or personnel….”
Granting such a request disclosing exactly where and when the governor will be would jeopardize his safety and be “an assassin’s dream,” said Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, speaking for the governor’s office at the Aug. 20 hearing.
“We cannot assume that the Legislature would have intended to provide an assassin with that kind of public – extraordinary windfall,” Richard said. “And consequently, we have to assume that the party who is urging that kind of interpretation has a high burden to demonstrate that it was truly intended by the Legislature.”
The governor's legal team also submitted to the court an affidavit from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement stating that the release of such details would pose a security risk.
Andrews argued that if the governor were at a campaign event and talked about issues that affect his administration, such as the election and Russian hacking, "it's not just a congressional issue, it's relevant to his job duties as governor of Florida."
Dodson said he understood the argument, "but I'm having trouble fitting it in that exemption."
The information requested by the health provider did not disclose surveillance and other such critical information, and the exemption cited only applies to an agency investigation, he said.
“Of course, if Petitioner was requesting regarding FDLE surveillance techniques, procedures or personnel while the governor is traveling, that would be exempt,” Dodson said. “But requesting his travel information is not exempt under the cited exemption.”
Contact Schweers at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.