Tallahassee, FL - Rick Scott walked into the room jammed full of editors and reporters and immediately tried to allay fears that he was less of an advocate for open government than previous Governors.
“You know, some of you think that it’s always hard to get enough access to me,” Scott said. “I can just tell you the other side, my wife thinks I talk to you guys more than I talk to her.”
It has been just over two weeks since Scott took office. Open government and sunshine advocates are worried he has been slow in releasing details on everything from salaries to complying with public records requests to holding short noticed dinners with lawmakers that are required to be open.
“If he’s meeting with our legislators to talk about legislative issues, which is what happened last week, the public does have a right to know and they do care deeply,” Barbara Peterson, President of the First Amendment Foundation, said.
The questions were tough.
“What specifically are your plans to correct this failure at a campaign promise?”
And he was asked if he was having trouble making a transition from CEO to a government official.
“I think it’s easier. Nobody comes to me with a deal,” Scott said.
And although his picture is often on the front page, the governor says he doesn’t read Florida newspapers.
Scott says he is briefed on anything in print that he needs to know.
With just over two weeks on the job, most editors and reporters seem skeptical about access and openness, but they also appear willing to give the newcomer the benefit of the doubt.
While Scott keeps insisting he is available plenty, his public relations staff says access has been limited by the administration because they have a strategic plan.