First Amendment Foundation asks candidates about their private email accounts and computers

The First Amendment Foundation, the non-profit that promotes open government Florida, asked the two gubernatorial candidates. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, to answer a few questions regarding Florida’s sunshine laws. Unfortunately one candidate replied.

“Florida has a long and rich tradition of open government, with some of the most progressive laws in the country,” FAF stated in its press release on the inquiry. “However, Florida’s open government laws have been under attack in recent years, and there has been a significant increase in the number of complaints received by the First Amendment Foundation’s FOI hotline regarding government abuses of our right to know laws.”

The First Amendment Foundation is the group that Mayor Ashton Hayward and the Greater Pensacola Chamber brought to town in August 2013 to help both their staffs better understand the open government laws. The organization held a seminar in Pensacola earlier this month.

On October 10, FAF sent each campaign an email, asking that the candidates answer the questions. The deadline for responding was Monday, October 27. The foundation received a response from candidate Charlie Crist last week, but Governor Rick Scott didn’t respond despite an extension of the deadline.

Here are the responses from Crist:

As governor, will you release a weekly calendar in advance that details your appointments, public meetings, and travel schedule? YES.

Do you pledge that all of the public business of your office will be conducted on public computer networks and devices? YES.

Do you pledge that you and your staff members will not use private email accounts in conducting public business? YES.

In your opinion, what is the state’s biggest open government problem and what should be done about it? Presently, far too much of the public’s business by the executive branch is being conducted in private. Travel, meetings, emails, texts…seem to be out of the public view. Further the executive branch seems to believe it is its job to make it more difficult and as expensive as possible for the public to have access to public records. Government in the shadows is contrary to our Constitution and contrary to the best interests of our citizens!