Gaetz and the Governor: It needs to be purely social
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, accepted Gov. Rick Scott's invitation to appear at a holiday reception at the Governor's Mansion on Thursday evening. (The event appears on Scott's official schedule, but does not note that legislators have been invited).
The governor's office initially said the reception would be off-limits to the press, but after an inquiry by the Times/Herald, the staff said it would be open to press coverage.
Gaetz said he hasn't spoken to Scott since he was sworn in as Senate president on Nov. 20, but he said Scott's aides invited him to stay at the mansion after the reception ends. But the Senate's rules expressly prohibit private discussions of legislative business, and the Florida Constitution (Article III, Sec. 4(e)) says such discussions of official business "must be reasonably open to the public."
"I'm going to see him tonight," Gaetz said. "They're doing a little reception over there and then they've asked Vicki (his wife) and I to stay afterwards. I guess he wants to talk to me."
Reminded by an aide not to discuss legislative business in private with the governor, Gaetz said: "I'll try not to." A spokeswoman for Scott, Jackie Schutz, said the post-reception dinner with the Scotts and Gaetzes would be "purely social."
Senate Rule 1.45 says in part:
"A written notice of the following meetings at which legislative business is to be discussed shall be filed with the Secretary (of the Senate). While the Legislature is not in regular or special session ... the notice shall be filed at least four hours before the scheduled time of the meeting
(A) Meetings of the President (or a Senator designated to represent the president) with the governor ... "