Sunday, January 21, 2018
Politics

Tallahassee lawyer sues state officials over public records

TALLAHASSEE — A persistent critic of Gov. Rick Scott filed lawsuits on Monday accusing top Florida officials of flouting the state's public records laws by failing to turn over emails and other documents.

Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews' lawsuits contend the Scott administration altered calendars of one top aide, relied on private email accounts and waited more than a year to hand over text messages of another aide.

The lawsuit against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says her office refused to hand over notes from meetings Bondi kept on her iPad and didn't provide emails from private accounts that deal with state business.

Andrews, who is embroiled in a land dispute with the governor and members of the Cabinet, said he decided to file the lawsuits after failing to get records he has been seeking for months.

"We finally got tired of them violating the Florida Constitution and not producing public records," Andrews said.

Jennifer Meale, a spokeswoman for Bondi, maintained that "every public records request received by this office is fulfilled in compliance with applicable law." Meale said that Bondi's office has already given Andrews information related to 12 separate requests.

Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Scott, did not address the allegations in the lawsuit directly. But she maintained that the Scott administration had turned over information related to 78 separate requests that Andrews had made of the governor's office and other state agencies.

Andrews is involved in a lawsuit in which he is seeking to purchase land near the Governor's Mansion where his law offices are located. The state is also trying to buy the property and insists it has the right to acquire the property first. A circuit court sided with Andrews but the state is trying to appeal the decision.

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