As a sign of the intensity of the coming political season, a high-ranking Department of Corrections official was suspended Friday for using his state e-mail for political purposes.
Michael Hanna, the Chief of Staff for the Department of Corrections, has been suspended for a week from his $85,000 a year job for misusing his state computer. E-mail provided to Wesh Orlando shows Hanna sending and receiving messages from George Bush's state campaign director and others.
In one message seeking help in Pinellas County, Hanna responded to a communiqué that called John Kerry a Roman Catholic Jew sympathetic to Islam and a Caucasian who wants to be the second black president, with the words “this is funny.”
Hanna was suspended Friday morning by the department’s number two man.
"We discussed it and he knows that it was inappropriate, he recognizes it was inappropriate and after discussing it with him he assured me that it wouldn't happen again," says Lou Vargas, Interim Deputy Secretary.
E-mails from the Bush-Cheney Florida political director make it clear that Hanna was participating in campaign coordinating activities.
Gov. Jeb Bush calls the incident unfortunate, but not symptomatic of rampant political activity by state employees.
"I don't think is was campaigning per say, but it was inappropriate and it was against our policies and he's being punished for it. Now it's not against the law based on the Supreme Court ruling but we have a higher standard than what the law is in this," says Gov. Bush.
By midday, a memo had been sent to all corrections employees reminding them not to use state resources for campaign or other political purposes.