Florida Attorney General McCollum has worked part-time for the past two months, schedule showsby Dara Kam | June 26th, 2009
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has carried a part-time workload for the past two months, according to his schedule posted on his Web site.
McCollum, a Republican who announced his candidacy for governor on May 18, has worked an average of about 22 hours a week since May 1, the records show.
During the same period, McCollum has averaged nearly 17 hours a week of “personal time” during normal business hours.
He has worked 178 hours – including a nine-hour stint on June 17 in his official capacity as state attorney general at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Convention – since May 1. He has logged 135 hours of “personal time” between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the same time period.
McCollum, who earns $131,605 a year, is on the job even when he’s not officially working, spokeswoman Sandi Copes wrote in an e-mail.
“Bill McCollum is engaged on a daily basis as Florida’s Attorney General; he talks to staff about litigation and operations every day, even when he’s off the clock. Thanks!” Copes wrote.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat who is McCollum’s chief rival for governor, has taken 68 hours of personal time – an average of eight hours a week – during the same period. She has logged 262 hours on official business over the past eight weeks, an average of about 33 hours per week.
Sink also earns an annual salary of $131,605.
“Alex Sink’s highest priority is always her work and service to the people of Florida as CFO,” spokeswoman Kyra Jennings wrote in an e-mail.
Both Cabinet members’ schedules include official time spent at social events such as receptions and dinners.
Official schedules can be deceiving, cautioned GOP political consultant Rick Wilson, who is not associated with McCollum’s campaign.
“When you’re a statewide office-holder, you’re basically on 24/7 regardless,” Wilson said. “Running for office and running as a statewide official is hard work. It’s not a shocker that it takes up an awful lot of time.”
McCollum’s schedule since May 1, when his staff began posting it online, is available at myfloridalegal.com. But if a resident wants to know what he was up to before that, it’ll cost a bundle.
Viewing McCollum’s complete schedule since he took office in January 2007 would cost $770, including a down payment of $500, McCollum’s staff initially said this week in response to a public records request for the schedule. The staff also said it would take at least a week to purge secret information before the file could be viewed.
The total includes the cost of copying 2,500 pages and redacting the records, which are unavailable electronically, McCollum’s staff said.
The following day, Copes said she would waive the deposit to expedite the request.
Meanwhile, Sink’s office e-mailed an electronic copy of her schedule starting from January 2007, when she took office, within an hour of a request. There was no charge.
In December, McCollum wrote a letter to sheriffs, school board members and other elected officials encouraging them to post their schedules electronically.
“With advances in technology, government in the sunshine can be as easy as uploading information to public Web sites,” read a release issued by his office.
Asked why the office that oversees the state’s Sunshine Laws imposes such a hefty fee for records that are in the public domain, spokeswoman Ryan Wiggins said: “For security reasons.”
“It’s transparent nonsense,” First Amendment attorney Florence Snyder said.
The information that needs to be blacked out includes the cellphone numbers of the state plane and pilot and various law enforcement officers who accompanied McCollum when he traveled, Wiggins said.
That’s ridiculous, Snyder said, because those numbers could be programmed into McCollum’s own cellphone or written on a piece of paper instead of being included on his official public schedule.
“This is the officer in charge of enforcing Florida’s open government laws,” Snyder said. “That sort of speaks to itself to the seriousness in which Gen. McCollum’s staff takes transparency.”