Rick Scott accused of flouting public records law; governor blasts law firm’s ‘dirty tactics’

The governor and U.S. Senate candidate won't release his calendar and future travel plans on orders of a judge.
File photo of Gov. Rick Scott.
File photo of Gov. Rick Scott.
Published Sept. 18, 2018|Updated Sept. 18, 2018

TALLAHASSEE — A state judge is being asked to levy fines of $1,000 a day on Gov. Rick Scott for not complying with a court order to turn over copies of his calendar and future travel plans.

The law office of Steven Andrews filed an emergency motion for contempt and sanctions Tuesday in circuit court in Tallahassee, after expiration of a 10-day period in which Scott was ordered by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson to provide the records, including for Scott's U.S. Senate campaign, for a three-month period ending Oct. 31.

"Every public official must comply with Florida's public records laws or lawful and valid court orders — even Gov. Rick Scott," Andrews' firm argues. "Holding (the governor's office) in civil contempt provides the necessary and appropriate relief for (its) contemptuous conduct, which is contrary to the mandate and purpose of the Florida Constitution."

Scott has filed a notice of appeal with the First District Court of Appeal. The governor's office said the filing of an appeal automatically stays Dodson's ruling, but Andrews says the stay is good for only 48 hours.

UPDATE: The governor's office got a stay from the appeals court Tuesday, so the plaintiff's motions are moot.

Andrews' firm represents the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a South Florida non-profit that had a contract to treat HIV/AIDS patients.

In a statement Tuesday, Scott's office accused the vendor of retaliating as a result of being denied a state contract after a competitive bid process.

"We will continue to fight to protect Florida taxpayers from these dirty tactics," Scott's office said, and claimed that the vendor offered to drop two public records lawsuits if it got a contract extension.

Attorney Ryan Andrews called the "dirty tactics" charge "unfortunate," and said: "(Scott's office) willfully chose to ignore a court order and now it must answer for that decision."

READ MORE: Locked in legal battle, Scott and health vendor trade charges

Scott's attorney, Barry Richard of Greenberg Traurig, argued in circuit court that the requested information is confidential, pursuant to an exemption in Florida's public records law for information that would reveal "surveillance techniques, procedures or personnel."

Judge Dodson rejected that argument, despite the sworn declaration from FDLE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Darrick Waller, who told the court: "Premature disclosure of prospective information regarding the governor's detailed schedule, including drive times, and the time and location of the governor's arrival and departure, would reveal FDLE's surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel and would compromise the safety and security of the governor."

READ MORE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott cloaks travel details, citing security 

Scott has exercised more secrecy over travel and appointments than other governors, including a standard practice of retroactively blacking out travel details.