By GARY FINEOUT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida 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.
John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, 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 Associated Press first asked for them.
Most of the emails appear to be from 2011 and 2012, although 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.
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. He has maintained that the Scott administration violated the state’s public records law. Andrews got permission from a Florida judge to ask Google about the email accounts, but Scott has hired lawyers in California to fight the request.
The lawsuits started after Andrews wanted to buy land on which his law office is located. The Scott administration wants the land as part of a plan to turn the adjacent historic home of former Gov. LeRoy Collins into a museum. Andrews contends state officials were not interested in the property until Scott found out that he was involved. Andrews won his initial lawsuit, but the case is being appealed.
Many of the emails turned over on Tuesday include exchanges between Scott and his former chief of staff Stephen MacNamara. Some are also from his press aides as well as 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 to convince 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.