Gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham blasted Gov. Rick Scott Thursday and accused his administration of hiding documents she requested related to a dozen hurricane-related deaths at a Hollywood nursing home.
His administration’s response: We have the documents and will turn them over for $1,200.
Graham, a Democrat and former congresswoman hoping to replace the term-limited Republican governor this November, claimed in a press release that Scott’s administration ignored her Sept. 29 public records request for call logs, text messages and voice mails from a private phone line he made available to Florida’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes ahead of Hurricane Irma.
She requested the records following an evacuation of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where the hurricane knocked out power, killing more than a dozen frail, elderly residents. Fourteen died after the storm, and 12 of the deaths have been classified as homicides. Multiple lawsuits have been filed.
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Graham, who also asked the state to recover voice mails that were transcribed and then deleted after the storm, said Scott’s Office of Open Government wiped any mention of her information request from its website.
“Governor Rick Scott does not care about transparency. Throughout his administration he has shown a complete disrespect for the spirit and letter of the Sunshine Laws,” Graham said. “Florida used to be proud of our transparency laws. Scott has made a mockery of them.”
In reaction to Graham’s email blast, Scott’s office sent the candidate a response Thursday that seemed to indicate the phone records had already been scoured by staffers and the records produced, though not distributed. The governor’s Office of Open government told Graham the work had taken 100 hours of staff time.
“To produce Governor Rick Scott’s September and October 2017 personal phone logs, approximately 100 hours of staff resources have been expended. This has been due to the strenuous time and resources that were dedicated to determining the identification of each individual number on the phone logs, as well as then identifying each call as state related business,” the email stated.
At $12 an hour, the state said the records would cost Graham $1,200, a bill referred to as an estimate.
Graham is still weighing how to respond, said campaign spokesman Matt Harringer.