When Florida Governor Rick Scott announced "my emails" would be available online for journalists and taxpayers to peruse in his new transparency program "Project Sunburst", he omitted one important detail: the emails wouldn't be those sent to his official state account, email@example.com.
In fact, the emails displayed to the public were from a separate email account, RLS@eog.myflorida.com. That email address is not found on any state website, according to a report by the Herald/Times, but is instead commonly found published as "Governor Rick Scott's email" on the pages of Tea Party groups around the state.
The Herald/Times uncovered the issue after noticing an "unrealistically high percentage of favorable emails" in the database, which Scott launched in May with the promise that "all Sunburst participant emails (SENT or RECEIVED) are forwarded" into the system, which the public can access and search.
"This is a big step forward for transparency," the Governor said at a news conference, while a release touted the system as an unprecedented program giving "members of the media an open and transparent window into how their state government works."
Read the full Herald/Times report to find out how, after reporters were urged to use the database in lieu of filing public records requests, Project Sunburst's omissions skewed a recent media report on Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll's anti-gay comments.
Scott's office said in a statement sent to HuffPost that the exclusion of his official email address was a good faith effort to ensure the privacy of citizens whose emails include personal information.
"In an effort to protect those citizens, the initial rollout of the Sunburst system did not include emails sent or received using the official website contact form or its associated email address," the statement read. "The initial launch of the Sunburst system only included 11 email accounts so that technical issues could be resolved before more email addresses are added."
The second address has now been set to autoforward to Scott's official email, which will reportedly also receive a copy of emails sent through his online contact form, the Governor's office said. Though the statement indicated it may take "a day or two" before all of Scott's emails are available in Project Sunburst, several negative missives have already made their way into the system.
"We don't support you and will work and vote against you next time out," read a new email in Scott's Sunburst folder, though it wasn't clear to which account it was sent.
Another new inclusion was even more succinct: "u r a dipshit," wrote a man named Steve.
The omission of Scott's emails from a program purporting to display a full account to journalists isn't the first time the Governor's staff has been accused of attempting to make him look good at the expense of media. In April, the Texas company that manages Scott's Facebook was forced to remove a doctored image of the Miami Herald's front page that featured a photoshopped headlining praising his plan to add jobs in Florida.
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