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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dems say lawmakers should investigate missing e-mails from Rick Scott's transition



Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said today that the Florida House and Senate should be in charge of investigating the potential destruction of records from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's transition into office.

"If you want people to have confidence in an investigation, have a public review, put people under oath and testify about it," Smith told the Times/Herald. (Read Smith's letter here.)

Scott has acknowledged that most transition e-mail accounts, including his, were closed on a private computer server and ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate why it happened and whether any records can be retrieved.

Spokeswomen for the Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, both Republicans, shrugged off the request.

"The president has full confidence in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and has no doubt they will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and will follow the facts of the case and act appropriately," Haridopolos spokeswoman Lyndsey Cruley said.

"Requests for legislative action made in good faith are typically received via direct communication with the Legislature, rather than second hand from members of the media, or via press accounts," Cannon spokeswoman Katie Betta said. "The nature of this request and the manner in which it was transmitted seem more indicative of a political press stunt than of a good faith request for action by the legislative branch."


Former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, said Monday that FDLE, an agency that reports to Scott and the Cabinet, shouldn't be in charge of investigating an issue involving the governor.

Today, Smith - Sink's running mate against Scott last year - said the investigation should be handled by the Legislature, which is controlled by a Republican super-majority.

Smith pointed to the Legislature's "role in protecting public records laws" and a precedent set when lawmakers took on then-Gov. Lawton Chiles in an investigation of thousands of scare calls made to senior citizens just days before the 1994 election.

"The Legislature has an independent ability to require all agencies to comply with the public records act," Smith said.

Smith, a former state attorney, said he has "full confidence" in FDLE. He said it was "unfair" for Scott to put the agency in charge of the investigation.

"The public will not have confidence in an outcome when you have an agency that works for you investigates something that happened under your watch," Smith said. "There will be an appearance of impropriety."

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 3:38pm]


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