A.G. Bondi says she’s powerless to probe Scott budget-signingby John Kennedy | June 16th, 2011
Attorney General Pam Bondi responded Thursday to West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Mark Pafford’s request to examine the circumstances surrounding Gov. Rick Scott’s staff stiff-arming Democratic protesters at his budget-signing last month at The Villages.
Bondi hinted she was concerned, but powerless to step in.
“Throughout my nearly two decades in public service, I have been committed to transparency and open government,” Florida’s top legal officer, a Republican, wrote. “While I do not take lightly the questions you have raised, Florida law does not empower me to investigate your concerns.”
Pafford, who earlier wrote Scott seeking a response, was among Florida House Democrats who urged Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, also a Republican, to push for more answers and an apology from the governor for his office’s role in bullying a couple dozen Democratic protesters at last month’s ceremony.
A governor’s staffer apparently urged Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies to rein-in the protesters, claiming the budget-signing was a private event. Deputies confronted the protesters, keeping them out of the governor’s view and ordering them to discard their signs.
For his part, Pafford said in a statement, “While I appreciate Attorney General Pam Bondi’s acknowledgment letter, I remain concerned that constitutional rights protecting Florida’s citizens have purposely been ignored by the Governor’s Office.
“Since January 2011, when members of the press were banned from attending inauguration events in the state capitol building, the pattern of privacy has been the norm. I believe Floridians want answers to what transpired in The Villages and accountability,” he added.