Florida Politics by News Service of Florida
October 15, 2018
Attorneys for the nation’s largest non-profit AIDS health-care provider squared off Monday against Gov. Rick Scott’s administration over Florida’s broad public-records law and how it applies to the governor’s travel records and meeting schedules.
The Scott administration does not dispute that information the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is requesting is a public record. Instead, the administration argued to a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal about the timing of the release of the information.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in July requested the governor’s travel schedule, including his overnight accommodations, for three months in advance. The foundation requested the information after the Scott administration made contracting decisions that locked a foundation health plan, Positive Healthcare, out of the state’s Medicaid program for the next five years.
In legal briefs filed with the 1st District Court of Appeal, Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, representing the Scott administration, argued that while the schedule isn’t exempt from the public-records law, there is a law that exempts from review “any information revealing surveillance techniques or procedures or personnel. “
“If you tell a person where the governor is going to be every time three months in advance — what time he’s going to arrive ,what time he’s going to leave, where he’s going to be lodging — effectively you are giving them the opportunity to learn the surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel,” Richard told The News Service of Florida. “Because all you have to do is get there ahead of time and watch the (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and how they are setting up their surveillance perimeter.”
Richard said the governor’s office releases Scott’s schedule daily and that the current distribution cycle “balances the public policy of open public records with the necessity of protecting the safety of public officers and law enforcement personnel.”