Matthew Weidner, a St. Petersburg lawyer whose practice focuses on consumer justice, has filed a complaint with a state prosecutor, accusing Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members and their staffs of violating Florida’s Sunshine Law and asking for a criminal investigation over the firing of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
Weidner filed his complaint with Tallahassee-area State Attorney Willie Meggs, who has publicly dismissed Bailey’s complaints as “much ado about nothing” and “nothing more than a squabble.” Meggs said that if Bailey believed any laws were broken, he should have filed a complaint with the state attorney’s office. Meggs also suggested the Cabinet members conduct their own investigation.
From Weidner’s letter to Meggs:
“Statements attributed to you in the press indicated that you won’t even consider opening an investigation until you receive a criminal complaint from Mr. Bailey himself. But Mr. Bailey is not the real party in interest here. As you know, the requirements articulated within Florida’s Sunshine Laws provide critical protections which inure to every citizen and resident of this state. When these laws are violated, these citizens and residents are the victims of those violations. Accordingly, the real parties in interest in these instances of potential Sunshine Law violations are the citizens of the State of Florida, whom you represent as State Attorney.
“At issue is the constitutional and statutory right of every citizen of the State of Florida to have open and noticed public meetings when official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed. Under the facts before us, I respectfully assert you have a duty to initiate an investigation on behalf of the people you took an oath to serve.”
Weidner said that if Meggs believes he can’t impartially investigate the matter because of his public statements, then he should recuse himself, which would force Scott to reassign the case to another state attorney.