Florida Gov. Rick Scott is putting his emails—as well as the emails of nearly a dozen of his top staff—online for anyone in the public to read.
Scott's decision to make public his emails come nearly nine months after he ordered an investigation into how and why emails he wrote before he became governor were deleted.
There were also numerous complaints during his first year in office from media organizations that the Scott administration was not fulfilling public records requests quick enough.
Scott's new "Project Sunburst" will allow anyone to access emails as soon as 24 hours after they are written, although the governor's office said that some emails may not migrate to the website right away. Most will be posted within seven days, but others will have to be reviewed to make sure the information is not exempt from public disclosure.
LINK: Click here to read the e-mails
"This unprecedented step gives the citizens of Florida as well as the members of the media an open and transparent window into the way state government works," said Scott, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the new Project Sunburst logo.
The service will also include any emails sent from smartphones used by Scott and his top staff, although it would not capture any text messages or messages on social media outlets. Scott said that eventually the email service would be extended to individual state agencies under his command.
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a media advocacy group said the effort would likely save media organizations both time and money.
She pointed out that during Scott's first year in office she asked for emails from top staff for a two-month period in the spring. Her organization wound up paying the state nearly $5,000 to copy and review the requests, some of which were not turned over until right before Christmas.
"I think it's a very positive step forward," Petersen said.
The Scott administration was forced to acknowledge last August that emails sent and written by the governor between the time he was elected and was sworn into office were missing. The governor asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate and look into whether it could recover the lost emails.
FDLE officials say they expect the investigation to be finished shortly. Documents released so far showed that emails from both an iPad and smartphone used by the governor were lost.
The Legislature this spring passed a bill making it clear that statewide elected officials must preserve emails and documents created between Election Day and when they are sworn into office. Scott strongly supported the bill and signed it into law.
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