A judge on Wednesday ordered Gov. Rick Scott to release about three months' worth of meeting schedules and travel plans — including upcoming campaign events — and rejected his argument that the information should remain secret for security reasons.
Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in Tallahassee ruled in favor of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The group sued the governor in July demanding a complete copy of Scott's calendars for the period beginning July 20, 2018 and ending on Oct. 31, 2018.
The period covered by the request includes most of the time leading up to election day, Nov. 6, where Scott is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Scott's office called the judge's decision "irresponsible" and said he will appeal Dodson's ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal.
"FDLE, who oversees the governor's security, has submitted an affidavit to the court stating that releasing details of the governor's schedule weeks in advance would pose a security risk and is protected from release under Florida law," Scott spokesman John Tupps said. "This ruling is irresponsible and puts the safety of the governor at risk."
Tupps said the lawsuit was brought by a disgruntled vendor.
"That is absolutely not true," said Jeff Blend, the foundation's assistant general counsel. "This is about public access to what are clearly public records."
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is a South Florida not-for-profit that serves thousands of HIV/AIDS patients in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. It recently lost a bid to renew a state Medicaid contract.
Scott claimed that the requested information that has not already been made public is protected by a public records exemption that covers surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel.
But Dodson, in a court order issued Wednesday, said that exemption in state law is under a sub-category called "agency investigations," and that AHF's request "does not concern an agency investigation."
"Requesting his travel information is not exempt under the cited exemption," the judge wrote.
Dodson gave Scott's office 10 days, or until Sept. 15, to provide the requested information, which also includes campaign and fund-raising events Scott plans to participate in between July 20 and Oct. 31 .
Throughout his nearly eight years in office, Scott has routinely redacted or removed information from his schedule, even long after events have taken place, citing the same surveillance exemption.