TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - When Florida Governor Rick Scott launched Project Sunburst in May, he said it would promote transparency by giving the public access to his emails, but the Miami Herald reports that only emails in favor of the governor and his policies were published.
Scott had called the project, “an open and transparent window into how state government works,” but the emails posted for the public weren’t coming from his official state account, firstname.lastname@example.org .
The emails were sent from a second address, RLS@eog.myflorida.com , and the address was almost exclusively used by conservative supporters, according to the report.
While the ‘RLS’ address didn’t appear on any official state sites, it was posted on several Florida tea party sites.
The sunburst site is filled with hundreds of glowing emails with subjects like, “Verified Voter Rolls: Amen!” or “Stand up to the corrupt Obama administration and his sycophantic media!”
But emails like Christison’s anti-voter purge never showed up on the Sunburst Project.
Christison’s email stated that rightly registered voters were getting kicked of Florida’s voter rolls, including a 91-year-old decorated war veteran.
The email had to be obtained through a public records request, and it was one of several messages excluded from the project's database.
When a Herald/Times reporter questioned the oddly high percentage of favorable emails on the Project Sunburst site, officials admitted that there were two email addresses.
Scott’s spokesman Brian Burgess emphasized that all emails could be obtained through a public records request.
However, many reporters had used the database at the urging of Scott, based on the notion that the site contained all official emails.
Scott had only been responding to emails coming through the “RLS” account, but Burgess announced that they will begin to add the full list of emails from Scott’s official state account, effective this week.
However, the governor is getting criticized for omitting any emails in the first place.
Dan Krassner, director of Integrity Florida said Project Sunburst shouldn’t be a propaganda machine.
“When you leave transparency in the hands of officials to pick and choose what they want to share with the public, problems arise,” he said to the Miami Herald.
But Burgess disagreed, and called calling Sunburst the most transparent public records system in Florida state government. He added that Scott’s official state account wasn’t displayed out of privacy concerns for people who included personal information in their emails.
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