Florida news outlets asked a state judge Monday to issue an emergency "preservation order" to compel Gov. Rick Scott and all three Cabinet members to protect and preserve any materials that may be relevant to their lawsuit alleging a Sunshine Law violation in the ouster of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
Attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen filed a 10-page emergency motion with Circuit Judge George Reynolds in Tallahassee that covers virtually all forms of what's known in legal circles as ESI, or electronically stored communication, including text messages on a smart phone.
Her motion cites an investigation FDLE completed in 2012 concerning destruction of emails by Scott's transition team in the weeks before he took office in January 2011. That probe concluded that the destruction of public records was "a result of an oversight by the members of the Gov. Scott transition team and not as a result of any malicious or criminal intent to destroy public records."
"The Governor and his staff have previously purged public records without properly archiving them," the motion states. "Significant controversy exists about unusual policies of the executive office of the governor as it relates to the retention of public records by members of its staff."The reference is to another lawsuit in which Scott initially denied, but then acknowledged that private email accounts were used to transact official business and a written policy that allowed individual state employees to decide whether certain messages were "transitory" and could be destroyed.
As a result, the motion said, "Plaintiffs (have) a substantial reason to fear that records relevant to this litigation will not be properly preserved and archived."
The motion noted that the plaintiffs are separately trying to obtain written stipulations from all four defendants as to the preservation of evidence. Besides Scott, the defendants in the case of Matthew Weidner et al. vs. Rick Scott et al. are Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.