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Here's what Rick Scott and the Cabinet had to say (or not) about the Groveland Four pardons


Rick Scott and Pam Bondi

The Groveland Four, the four black men wrongly accused of rape in 1949 and summarily murdered, tortured or wrongly imprisoned, is one of the ugliest episodes of racism in Florida's history.

The case is so bad that books have been written about it, and last year Florida's Legislature voted to ask the state's Clemency Board — led by Gov. Rick Scott — to posthumously pardon them.

Yet more than a year has gone by without the board taking up the Legislature's request, and the agenda for Scott's final Clemency Board meeting, which has been postponed, doesn't include the Groveland Four.

After Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, none of the four members of the Clemency Board could say why they haven't pardoned the Groveland Four.

While the process to apply and get someone pardoned can take years, each member of the board has a simple solution: the rules allow them to immediately bring a candidate before them to be pardoned.

None have done so.

Scott, who left before taking questions from the press on Tuesday, said through a spokesman that it was a matter of procedure.

His spokesman did not address the fact that the governor could merely invoke the rule to immediately speed up the process.

“Governor Scott is aware of the Groveland Four case and is strongly against any form of racial injustice or discrimination," his spokesman said in an statement. "Currently, the families of Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee have applications pending with the Commission on Offender Review which, on behalf of the state of Florida, conducts clemency investigations per standard procedure and the Florida Constitution.

"After the Commission concludes clemency investigation, their findings are presented to the four-member Board of Executive Clemency. We continue to review all of our options."

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam took questions from the press but would not say why he hasn't done.

"The year's not done and our term's not done," Putnam said. "There may yet me an opportunity. But that's still in flux. We'll see."

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis avoided answering, saying he didn't know the next time the Clemency Board would meet. The meeting was supposed to be today, but it was indefinitely postponed so Scott could attend services for former President George H.W. Bush in Washington.

When told that the Groveland Four wasn't on the agenda for the final meeting, Patronis said, "We have another agenda coming out."

As for Attorney General Pam Bondi, she also left the Cabinet meeting without taking any questions, and her spokesman did not respond to the question.