Florida Watchdog by John Haughey
October 8, 2018
The whereabouts of one Richard ‘Rick’ Lynn Scott – lame duck Florida governor, U.S. Senate candidate – is an official state secret.
That’s what attorneys representing the Florida Governor’s Office will argue before the 1st District Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 in response to a lawsuit over the status of Gov. Rick Scott’s daily calendar that asks: Is it a public document or not?
The appeals court will hear Scott’s challenge to Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson’s Sept. 5 ruling that his calendar – his whereabouts – is a public document and he should turn over all its information to a health-care provider seeking answers to why its contract was not renewed.
The lawsuit is one of two public-records challenges lodged in July against the Scott administration by Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, whose subsidiary, Positive Healthcare, treats 2,000 patients with AIDS and HIV in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
The foundation said Positive Healthcare is the only non-profit serving AIDS and HIV patients in Miami-Dade and Broward counties – which rank first and second in Florida for the reported number of new HIV infections, according to the state Department of Health.
When the Foundation learned Positive Healthcare’s contract to provide Medicaid managed care was not renewed for 2019 by the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), it asked for copies of all communications between the governor’s office and all applicants or bidders – and their lobbyists – for Medicaid AIDS care contracts in the AHCA’s 11 service regions.
The foundation’s second lawsuit alleges the governor’s office did not provide records of communications with managed-care plans that bid on the Medicaid contract as sought in a public information request. It is awaiting a decision by Leon County Judge Karen Gievers.
The foundation is also challenging in administrative court the state’s decision not to renew the organization’s Medicaid contract.
The ruling Scott is appealing to the 1st District Court of Appeal stems from the foundation’s public information request for copies of Gov. Scott’s calendar, including information about fundraising events, where he was staying at night, meeting schedules and travel plans, dating back to July and extending through October.
During its Sept. 5 hearing before Dodson, the group’s attorney, Steven Andrews, of Tallahassee, said it was seeking legal access to public documents, compiled and recorded by taxpayer-paid staff, that documented how the state’s top executive, his security entourage and others on the state payroll, spent the public’s time.