Today, in accordance with the Florida Open Records Law, American Bridge is requesting unreleased emails sent from Jeb Bush’s private email account during his time as governor. Recently, Bush was quick to brag about releasing 250,000 emails in his ostensible devotion to transparency — but Bush said he received 550,000 emails on his private account and 2.5 million emails on his public account during his gubernatorial tenure.
A full copy of the open records request can be found here, and is copied below:
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Florida Department of State
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
The following request is being made in accordance with The Florida Public Records Law (Fla. Stat. sec. 119) and all other Florida open record laws. I am requesting copies of the following records:
Unreleased Email Correspondence Between The Jeb@Jeb.Org Account And Employees Of the State Of Florida: I am requesting copies of incoming-and-outgoing email correspondence between the Jeb@Jeb.org email account and all other employees of the state of Florida from January 5, 1999, to January 2, 2007 that has not previously been released to the public. It is clear from media reports that then-Governor John Ellis Bush’s personal accounts contain emails where they conduct official government business, thereby constituting it as a public record. Unfortunately recent news reports revealed that Bush selectively released some email records to the Florida Department of State and Florida State Archives – we are requesting copies of unreleased emails responsive to this request. Please note that responsive records to this request would include all releasable emails between Jeb@Jeb.org and any email account with a domain name issued by the State of Florida.
Florida’s Public Records Law clearly states that “It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.” (Fla. Stat. sec. 119.001(1)) Indeed, Florida’s laws defines a public records as “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.” (Fla. Stat. sec. 119.011(12)) It is clear from media reports that Governor Bush’s personal accounts contain emails where he conducted official government business, thereby constituting it as a public record was legally obligated to “deliver to the person or persons responsible for records and information management in such office all public records kept or received in the transaction of official business during the period following election to public office.” (Fla. Stat. sec. 119.035(4))
Furthermore, Florida’s Public Records Law indicates that if an “officer-elect, individually or as part of a transition process, creates or uses an online or electronic communication or recordkeeping system, all public records maintained on such system shall be preserved so as not to impair the ability of the public to inspect or copy such public records.” (Fla. Stat. sec. 119.035(3)) The law explicitly outlines that “the term ‘officer-elect’ means the Governor….” (Fla. Stat. sec. 119.035(5))
I also fully recognize that access to these email accounts may need to be acquired from Governor Bush. As former government employees subject to the Florida law, we believe they are obligated to provide you with such access, or that you must otherwise obtain it from their email service provider. We ask that you pursue recovering any deleted emails from the subject’s email provider.
I realize that certain costs may be applicable to this request. Please contact me when you can provide a payment amount for my requests. In the meantime, I authorize an initial expense cap of $500 to be accrued. To help assess my status for copying and mailing fees, please note that I am gathering information for research purposes and not for commercial activities.
I also request that you state the specific legal and factual grounds for withholding any documents or portions of documents, should you withhold any. Please identify each document that falls within the scope of this request but is withheld from release.
If requested documents are located in, or originated in, another installation or bureau, I would request that you please refer this request, or any relevant portion of this request, to the appropriated installation or bureau.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.