The Ledger by Gary White
December 9, 2019
Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who has been in the Legislature since 2008, says the revision to Florida’s public records laws is needed to guard the safety of lawmakers and their families.
LAKELAND — As the wife of a judge, Sen. Kelli Stargel is shielded from having her home address listed in Florida’s public records.
But Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, knows that her fellow legislators don’t have the same protection. She wants to change that.
Stargel has filed a bill for the 2020 session that would block the personal information of legislators and state cabinet members from public access. Stargel says the revision to Florida’s public records laws is needed to guard the safety of lawmakers and their families.
Stargel, who has been in the Legislature since 2008, said she has periodically received threats, some of which prompted her to alert law enforcement officials.
“As a whole, we’ve received different threats from time to time and frequently had concerns when we leave our homes to go to Tallahassee,” Stargel said Monday. “Some of our younger legislators are leaving wives and small children. It’s really a concern when you’re leaving your family at home by themselves and you’re heading off to Tallahassee.”
Stargel’s husband, John Stargel, is a judge with Florida’s 10th Judicial Circuit. Under a previously passed law, the personal information of judges and their family members is blocked from public records.
Stargel noted that the Legislature in recent years has added similar protections for public defenders, court officials and law enforcement members. She said the bill arose from conversations with other legislators.