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Public Records Settlement Hits Taxpayers Hard

August 13th, 2015 by Mike Vasilinda

Taxpayers will be one point three million dollars poorer after Governor Rick Scott’s office settles several public records lawsuits. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the costs have public records advocates fuming.

Behind this law office sits the home of former Governor Leroy Collins. It’s soon going to be a museum. The Attorney..Steve Andrews, supported Governor Rick Scott’s opponents. And after Scott was elected, a dispute erupted over who had rights to buy the law firm property…Andrews or the state. In requests for public records, Andrews discovered Scott had two non state email accounts used for state business. Law suits followed. This is what Andrews told us last year.

“One of the most important rights in the Florida Constitution is the right to public records. In any form. Private emails, cell phones “ said Andrews last August.

A year later, the state is settling with Andrews for 7 hundred thousand dollars. A 120,000 check was ordered by the Governor;s office on Monday. The exchange is set for 10 am Friday morning.

We talked with Andrews off camera. He wants to wait until the case settles Friday before saying anything publicly.

Documents also show the Governor is paying 304 thousand dollars to outside law firms to defend himself against Andrews and against media outlets in a separate case. .

Media Attorney Carol Locicero says its a shame taxpayers are on the hook for the Governor’s actions.

“Transparency starts with the right attitude and its really not been a priority of this Governor’s office.”

In agreeing to settle the case, Andrews is giving up 1.2 million in legal fees. T

The future of whether the law office every becomes part of the museum entrance remains up in the air.   Public records requests made of the Governor often take a month or more to fulfill. And under a new policy, the office posts every response to a records request online.

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