ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has acknowledged emails on Scott’s personal iPad were accidentally deleted, and that’s a potential violation of state law, an open-government advocacy organization said Friday.
A state information technology employee this spring was trying to put an application on the tablet to retrieve and print out the emails to and from the governor’s transition team, but they were deleted instead.
Attempts to retrieve them have been unsuccessful.
Attorneys for Scott acknowledged the deletion in a meeting with the First Amendment Foundation this week. The Orlando Sentinel first reported the loss of the emails based on a memo it obtained from the media-supported foundation.
The foundation did not immediately release the entire memo to The Associated Press, but its executive director, Barbara Petersen, acknowledged parts of it in an email.
“Deletion of public records prior to the scheduled destruction date is a violation of law, yes,” Petersen said. “This was apparently an accident, and efforts were made to recover the mails, so I presume it would be considered an unintentional violation.”
The penalty for such a violation of the state’s open-government law is a $500 fine.
Petersen, though, said the emails still might be recovered from other sources such as recipients of the messages.
“So, it’s probably too soon to speculate whether a violation of law has occurred,” Petersen said.
Scott in August ordered an investigation into the deletion of emails written by the governor and some members of his transition team. Those emails were lost when the private company handling email for Scott’s transition office shut down the accounts.
The governor’s office has refused to discuss the matter because of the investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The foundation memo says the technician, Bruce Slager, notified transition team lawyer Chris Kise and told him not to touch the iPad after he realized the emails had been erased. Slager also called FDLE but the agency was unable to recover the emails from the device. Two subsequent attempts also failed.