A group of Democratic state representatives writes today that the ejection of dissenters from Gov. Rick Scott’s budget-signing event may have been “unlawful.”

Late last week, Gov. Rick Scott’s office issued a statement taking responsibility for the ejection of dissenters from his budget signing — an event put on with the help of the state Republican Party that blurred the lines between an open state function and an ideologically controlled political event.

The statement did not include an apology, though Scott was quoted saying it wouldn’t happen again. Today, 15 Democrats in the state House of Representatives are suggesting they aren’t about to let the matter go, sending a letter to state Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater calling for an investigation.

They write that the ejection of people from an even they had been led to believe was public is “profoundly disappointing and shocking” and “a very serious infringement of the rights of taxpaying Floridians.”

The letter is below:

The Honorable Pam Bondi
Attorney General, State of Florida
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

The Honorable Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer, State of Florida

The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Re:  Governor Scott’s May 26 Florida Budget Signing Event

Dear General Bondi and CFO Atwater:

By now, you are aware of a controversy concerning Governor Rick Scott and his admission that his office inappropriately removed Florida residents from a public budget signing event held in the Central Florida retirement community of The Villages on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

In a June 3 Governor’s Office statement responding to concerns raised by citizens and members of the media, a spokesperson for the governor acknowledged that a mistake had occurred. However, the brief statement neither provides explanation for the actions nor an apology to the affected persons.

In our view, the unlawful removal of a citizen at a public event is a very serious infringement of the rights of taxpaying Floridians, especially given the appearance that the citizens were removed solely, or primarily, because of their political views. These actions by, or under the authority of the Governor’s Office, are profoundly disappointing and shocking as they trample upon essential freedoms that all Americans cherish.

Given the seriousness of the matter and the considerable public importance, we urge you and your offices to provide us with urgent insight into the following questions:

  • Were civil liberties that are guaranteed under the Florida and U.S. constitutions, and under state or federal law, infringed upon by the Governor’s Office in its apparent decision to use resources of a local sheriff to remove citizens, at risk of arrest, from the budget-signing event?
  • What remedies are available to the affected Floridians, and what penalties are appropriate for such alleged misconduct?
  • Were state offices or public funds used inappropriately at this signing event; and if so, what are the appropriate means for reimbursing taxpayers?
  • What recommendations can you provide to ensure all Floridians that such a “mistake” will not happen again?

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter involving important constitutional and financial concerns to Floridians. We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Mark Pafford

Representative
Florida House District 88

Rick Kriseman

Representative
Florida House District 53

Richard Steinberg

Representative
Florida House District 106

Jeff Clemens

Representative

Florida House District 89

Janet Cruz

Representative

Florida House District 58

Scott Randolph

Representative

Florida House District 36

Reggie Fullwood

Representative

Florida House District 15

Dwight Bullard

Representative

Florida House District 118

Lori Berman

Representative

Florida House District 86

Luis Garcia

Representative

Florida House District 107

Franklin Sands

Representative

Florida House District 98

Elaine Schwartz

Representative

Florida House District 99

Alan Williams

Representative
Florida House District 8

Steve Perman

Representative

Florida House District 78

Jim Waldman

Representative

Florida House District 95

 

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