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Inquiry into Gov. Rick Scott's deleted transition e-mails opens amid complaint from Alex Sink

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation Monday into missing e-mails from Gov. Rick Scott's two-month transition amid a complaint from former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink about a possible conflict of interest.

The head of FDLE, Gerald M. Bailey, is employed at the will of Scott and the Cabinet. That relationship could pose a conflict for the department's investigation, Sink said.

"This is outrageous," Sink said. "Clearly there were laws broken. There should be an independent investigation into why these transition e-mails disappeared into thin air."

Sink, a Democrat, lost the governor's race to Scott in November.

The Times/Herald reported Thursday that e-mails from Scott's transition, a two-month planning period when hires are made in the new administration and a crucial first-year agenda is crafted, were deleted soon after Scott took office. Scott's transition team has pieced together part of Scott's correspondence from that time through the personal e-mail accounts of some of his top staffers.

On Friday, Scott ordered FDLE to investigate why the transition e-mail accounts were deleted and whether any content can be recovered.

Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said there was no conflict, pointing to three Cabinet members that share FDLE oversight.

"The whole thing will be looked into by a law enforcement agency that knows what it's doing," Burgess said.

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, both Cabinet members, said through spokesmen that they had no issue with FDLE handling the investigation.

"We have full confidence that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will do a thorough investigation," Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis said.

Putnam spokesman Sterling Ivey said, "The excellent reputation and credentials of FDLE make that agency a logical choice to investigate an issue like this."

The FDLE arm assigned to investigations ordered by the governor, Executive Investigations, will be joined by the Florida Computer Crime Center in the inquiry, FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said.

Michael C. Bender can be reached at mbender@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Inquiry into Gov. Rick Scott's deleted transition e-mails opens amid complaint from Alex Sink 08/22/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2011 9:34pm]
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