Gwen Graham blasts Rick Scott and DEP for delay in public records request on sinkhole spill – Florida Politics (blog)
Six weeks after first requesting public records pertaining to the leak of contaminated water that occurred at a massive sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales Facility at the Hillsborough/Polk county line in August, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham says she wants to know why Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are “stalling” to release emails related to the controversy.
“Public records are the one tool we have to keep Gov. Rick Scott and his Department of Environmental Protection honest,” Graham said in a statement Friday. “They kept the sinkhole secret for weeks — and now they’re stalling on our public records request. Floridians have a right to know the truth, and if the governor won’t hold the Department of Environmental Protection accountable for this massive mistake, we will.”
Graham says her office has been told by DEP officials it has taken weeks for the department to complete a legal review of the records, and that the department’s communications team is also reviewing the public records before releasing them. In letters to Scott and DEP Secretary Jon Steverson, Graham said it may constitute a violation of the state’s Sunshine Law.
“As you are aware, Florida courts have ruled that an agency’s unjustified delay in producing public records constitutes an unlawful refusal to provide access to the requested records, in violation of chapter 119, Fla. Stat. The only delay in releasing public records permitted by law ‘is the limited reasonable time allowed the custodian to retrieve the record and delete those portions of the record the custodian asserts are exempt.’” Graham wrote in the letter. “Because this request does not involve an ongoing criminal investigation and the requested communications are unlikely to include exempt or confidential information (such as local residents’ Social Security numbers), there should be very little information to redact from these records. There is no excuse for this process to