Gov. Rick Scott said he was championing transparency in May when he gave the public access to his emails by posting them online for anyone to see.
But what he failed to say at his May 3 news conference launching Project Sunburst was that the emails he made public were not the emails of his official state account. The emails the public read online were from a different account used almost exclusively by conservative supporters.
On Monday, after the Herald/Times questioned what appeared to be an unrealistically high percentage of favorable emails on the public database, the Scott administration issued a statement acknowledging the two separate e-mail accounts. It also announced that it would phase out RLS@eog.myflorida.com, which Scott solely used to respond to email. That email address — which was not on any official state website — appears on many Tea Party websites across the state, under the heading “Governor Rick Scott’s email.”
“Effective this week, emails sent or received using the official website contact form will also be added to the Sunburst system,” said Scott spokesman Brian Burgess, who emphasized that the governor’s emails are always available through a public records request.
Scott was not available for comment.
A full list of emails sent to both of Scott’s accounts, going back to May 1, will now be uploaded to the system. Scott’s official state email account is firstname.lastname@example.org, but this account is only used to receive emails and not correspond with the public.
See the press conference announcing Project Sunburst here:
Note: The governor's press office went to great lengths to show that Project Sunburst was "above and beyond" what the law requires and that Scott is one of the most transparent govenors in Florida history.
We've posted the office's lengthy statement, in its entirety, below:
The Sunburst email transparency system is the first of its kind in Florida state government. Like all new technology, improvements will be made to the system as it continues to evolve. All emails sent to and received by the Governor are considered public records and have always been available under Florida’s Sunshine Law. The Sunburst system provides an additional level of transparency above and beyond what the law requires. Many citizens email private information to the Governor’s Office that could inadvertently be made public under the Sunburst system. In an effort to protect those citizens, the initial rollout of the Sunburst system did not include emails sent or received using the official website contact form or its associated email address. The initial launch of the Sunburst system only included 11 email accounts so that technical issues could be resolved before more email addresses are added. Effective this week, emails sent or received using the official website contact form will also be added to the Sunburst system. However, in a continuing effort to protect citizen privacy, any protected, private information will not be published.
On a more technical note, the official website contact form has been merged with the Governor’s state email account so that emails sent via the web form now drop directly into the Governor’s official state account at email@example.com. The old firstname.lastname@example.org address has been discontinued by merging it with the official account (autoforwarded) so that no matter which address is used, either will be published to the Sunburst system on a regular basis.
Executive Office of the Governor