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Progress Florida Launches Executive Accountability Project as Culture of Secrecy Pervades Scott Administration

| April 23, 2014

It's about controlling the message. (Facebook)

It’s about controlling the message. (Facebook)

By Mark Ferrulo

It was recently revealed that Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s embattled Chief of Staff, frequently uses text messages to discuss state business, which is against official policy.

This continues an alarming pattern of the Scott administration acting behind closed doors and out of view of the public they are supposed to serve.

Now, Progress Florida has joined with good government watchdog groups around the country to shine a light on the secrecy prevalent in too many governors’ offices.

This is a first-of-its kind effort to shed a light on the actions of governors through a multi-state public transparency effort. From closed bridges in New Jersey, to illegal voter purges in Florida, Americans are tired of watching governor after governor misuse their public office for personal and political gain.

The Executive Accountability Project will seek to make public through the use of freedom of information requests state business-related conversations between governors and their top appointed staff. This new, much needed effort has launched in five states: Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

context floridaThe public has a right to know how elected officials like Scott, who serve at the behest of the people, are operating behind closed doors. This knowledge is particularly crucial considering recent court decisions gutting campaign finance laws, the growth of stealth corporate funded lobbying efforts and the normalization of a revolving door between elected office and private industry.

Combined, these developments have created an unprecedented level of corporate influence over public policy.

Even as the Executive Accountability Project is in its nascent stage, Scott and top state officials are facing a public records lawsuit that contends state officials are flouting Florida’s public records law.

Meanwhile, messages recently made public by veteran Florida reporter Gary Fineout detail how lobbyists and elected officials communicate with Scott’s top deputy via text message. Among the issues these text messages discussed were Scott’s lieutenant governor search, judicial appointments and issues being debated during the 2014 legislative session.

The culture of self-serving deal-making that grips many of our state capitals has operated essentially in secret, relying on tactics to avoid Government in the Sunshine laws and a lack of public attention. The Executive Accountability Project will focus on providing the public a never-before-seen look at the inner workings of how their elected officials are conducting “the people’s” business behind closed doors.

We’re fortunate in Florida that many members of the media have worked to change this toxic culture and ensure that officials operate in an open manner. This new accountability campaign is another much needed effort to shed greater sunlight on the often arcane and secretive inner workings of Florida’s executive branch of government.

It’s often said that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” That sunshine is needed now more than ever to help expose the egregious, unbridled access and influence that special interest lobbyists have in the Scott administration.

Mark Ferrulo is the executive director of Progress Florida, a statewide progressive advocacy organization.

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7 Responses for “Progress Florida Launches Executive Accountability Project as Culture of Secrecy Pervades Scott Administration”

  1. Reid Friedson says:

    There needs to be a federal RICO investigation of the Florida Legislature and Executive agencies and commissions as well as the Florida state college system and its regional accreditors. See: Reid Friedson’s blog at The Nation ( and his op-eds in the Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers especially “Rick Scott’s Circle of Distrust” et al. See Reid Friedson’s public filings with the Indian River State College (IRSC) Trustees, President, Florida Ethics Commission, Florida Human Relations Commission, Florida Inspectors General, and with SACS revealing concealment of evidence, obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting violations of state and federal law. Indian River State College refuses to provide access to its institutional effectiveness plans, the records of its trustees, and president, and financial audits. The Governor has failed to return information requests on who the Trustees at IRSC are and what their backgrounds are (conflict of interest?).

    I established the Adjunct Faculty Union at IRSC (AFU-IRSC) on July 9, 2013 and IRSC hired UPS’ union busting attorney. 75% of Florida’s professors are adjuncts making around $1600 for 4 months of work without representation in faculty senates and if you ask about health insurance when you are teaching 6 classes and each year are rated one of the best professors in the nation, you will stop being assigned work at IRSC with no explanation provided.

    Students and faculty throughout Florida and the United States are having their constitutional rights violated as they accrue through interstate commerce federal student loan debt. Insiders are in contempt of the public trust, public interest, and Florida’s open government laws contained in the state constitution and state statutes. Let’s file a class action on behalf of the taxpayers, college students, and professors who pay for this abuse of power and unconstitutional activities including wage theft. Who is the best attorney in Florida for the job? is the entire state government of Florida corrupt and incompetent?

  2. Outsider says:

    I wonder when they’ll do the same for the Obama administration.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Outsider says–I wonder when Republicans will finally start taking responsibility for their own and stop insinuating dubious things about everybody else, like it’s some magical defense mechanism? Until they do, they probably won’t be winning any presidential elections.

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    Great Work! It’s very important to be aware and remember that unfortunately secret deal making and corruption happens at ALL levels of government. . . not just Congress/the White House. We need these kinds of “watch dog” organizations to at least attempt to create some kind of accountability to ALL voters. . . not just the lobbyists of the 1%. There is nothing honest and ethical about Rick Scott!

  4. m&m says:

    This is no different then the Obama administration..

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