FDLE clears Scott and team of wrongdoing for deleting emailsby John Kennedy | June 20th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott and his gubernatorial transition team were cleared Wednesday of any wrongdoing for deleting emails from the weeks leading up to his swearing-in as Florida’s chief executive.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded an investigation requested by Scott last August after media reports disclosed that the deletions may have violated state public records law.
FDLE said its review found the data “was deleted as a result of an oversight…and not as a result of any malicious or criminal intent to destroy public records.”
The Legislature earlier this year passed a measure which clarified the widely held understanding that transition emails by the governor and other statewide officials are public record under Florida law. Scott supported the legislation.
Scott’s office praised the FDLE findings Wednesday.
“In all, more than 4.5 gigabytes of electronic data representing more than 33,000 pages of transition emails and documents were recovered and turned over to FDLE,” the administration said. “In addition to securing the email messages of senior staff, the governor also directed the transition team and FDLE to use electronic forensic search methods to recover lost emails and further required every member of the transition team, including volunteers, to turn over all documents related to transition business.
”By casting the widest possible net and using cutting-edge technology, the transition team, in cooperation with FDLE investigators, ultimately produced the most comprehensive collection of gubernatorial transition documents in Florida history,” the administration said.
The FDLE report shows that a former Scott adviser, Susie Wiles, and Amy Brown, an employee of Harris Media, a marketing company used by the governor, were the central figures in closing out the email accounts used by the transition team in January 2011.
FDLE found that Wiles told Brown to shut down the accounts, which were used by 71 transition team members. FDLE was subsequently able to identify 44 transition team members in its investigation and interview 42 of them.
Brown followed the shut-down order — but Wiles said she thought data from the emails would be preserved on a backup server.
Sixteen of the transition team members had retained their scotttransition.com emails and were able to provide them to FDLE, the agency said. But the rest are gone, FDLE said.