|This morning, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham hand delivered a $1,200 personal check to Governor Rick Scott’s office for public records surrounding the 14 deaths at the Hollywood Hills nursing home in Broward County.
“It is troubling and totally unacceptable that Governor Rick Scott has refused to voluntarily release all the records surrounding Hollywood Hills and his office’s role in the tragedy. Disappointing, but not surprising, given his history of hiding public records and violating the Sunshine laws,” Graham said. “This is a small price to pay for the people of Florida to know the full truth.”
Graham first filed public record requests for information about the governor’s role in the tragedy immediately following Hurricane Irma, when it was reported the nursing home had contacted a personal cell phone the governor distributed as an emergency contact line. She expanded the requests to include all communications between Scott’s private phone number and the nursing home, and all communications in the Governor’s Office, the Agency for Healthcare Administration and Department of Children and Families concerning the deaths at Hollywood Hills. View Graham’s September records request and press release, here.
The Governor’s Office had gone months without an update on the request until Graham demanded them on Friday, at which point the Scott administration responded in just hours with a bill of $1,200 to make them public.
“This isn’t about me or Rick Scott. This is about the 14 seniors who died and the public’s right to know the truth. We need to know exactly what went wrong so we can prevent an incident like this from ever happening again,” Graham said. “I wish the governor or Legislature, with all the state’s resources, was fully investigating the tragedy and why the state didn’t intervene to help — but if they won’t do their jobs, I will.”
Graham said she expects the records will be released online quickly for all of the public to see and said that if they do not meet her complete request and include the deleted voicemails, she will explore legal options to force the governor to fully comply with the state’s public record laws.
This is not the first time Graham has challenged Scott for public records. In October 2016, Graham used public records to expose the role Scott’s administration played in keeping a massive Central Florida sinkhole secret from the public.