Jeb Bush

Clinton email controversy raises questions about Jeb Bush, Rick Scott

News that Hillary Clinton used a private email account during her time as Secretary of State draws contrasts and similarities to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott, both of whom have drawn criticism for using private email.

Bush, a leading Republican contender for president, quickly jumped on the news against an expected rival, whom critics have long cast as secretive.

“Transparency matters,” Bush wrote Monday night on Twitter. “Unclassified @HillaryClinton emails should be released. You can see mine, here. jebbushemails.com

Earlier this year Bush released several hundred thousand emails covering his eight years as governor, a massive archive that gave insight into his handling of sensitive issues such as the Terri Schiavo saga and into his assertive leadership style.

The records were already available but Bush, putting them in an easy-to-read format, touted his commitment to transparency.

But the public cannot see everything.

Bush, who used a private Jeb@jeb.org account, removed from the record those emails related to politics, fundraising and family matters.

“He’s being a bit disingenuous because he decided what we saw and didn’t see,” said Barbara A. Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a group that is supported by news organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

Clinton also apparently decided which emails to hand over to the State Department last year, though her use of a private account was just made public.

Bush’s use of a private account was known at the time and his email was available through record requests. But the practice was not without controversy. Florida law, however, does not prohibit use of a private account.

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Tuesday that Bush would not heed calls to release all his email, given criticism of Clinton, the presumptive Democratic front-runner for president.

“Governor Bush released emails related to state business,” Campbell said, echoing questions whether Clinton violated federal rules. “He is not releasing personal correspondence, nor is that a reasonable expectation of anyone.”

Bush also tangled with reporters on releasing his schedule, something he refused to do on his first full day in office in 1999. The governor eventually relented.

“Bush was not bad on public records,” Petersen said. “He just wasn’t perfect or great. Scott makes me miss Bush.”

Scott tangled with news organizations over missing records from his transition team, some of which were deemed unrecoverable. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that it was an oversight “and not as a result of any malicious or criminal intent to destroy public records.”

Since then Scott has also kept things off his schedule, including a meeting in late January with top executives of South Florida gambling venues. He does not release details about his travel.

More seriously, he was found to have used a private email account to discuss state business, despite denials from his lawyer. After he won re-election last year, Scott released 200 pages of email records covering four years, without explanation.

Herald/Times staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

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