Huntley Johnson believes documents show search committee members met with each other while traveling to meet with Fuchs and other candidates.
The Gainesville Sun by Cindy Swirko
August 9, 2017
In mid-July, the University of Florida settled a public records lawsuit with Gainesville attorney Huntley Johnson, but it soon may be defending itself against a new one — Johnson wants President Kent Fuchs fired. If not, he may sue UF for Sunshine Law violations.
Johnson and his law partner, Amy Osteryoung, contend a trove of recently released documents from the public records request show that UF violated the Sunshine Law during presidential searches in 2012 and in 2014.
“The University of Florida has violated the rules that relate to the Presidential Search being in the Sunshine,” Johnson said in a statement to The Sun. “The remedy for that violation is to set aside the current president’s selection. We would hope that the University of Florida would act immediately now that these documents have been made public. If they do not, then sadly, this law firm will have to engage the University of Florida, again.”
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said UF officials would not comment on the threat.
“The Board of Trustees and the (State University System) Board of Governors unanimously approved Dr. Fuchs and we are not going to comment on what Mr. Johnson and Ms. Osteryoung are planning to do,” Sikes said.
Earlier this year Florida Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, filed a bill to exempt candidates for university searches from the Sunshine Law.
An analysis of the bill by the legislative staff laid out the current law.
“Information obtained by a search committee or consultant, including applications and other information gathered by a committee or consultant regarding applicants, must be made available for copying and inspection upon request,” the analysis states. “In addition, any meetings associated with the search process, including vetting of applicants, are open to the public.”
Under the law, members of government-sanctioned groups such as city commissions, university boards of trustees and search committees are not to discuss privately matters that might come before them.