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How much taxpayer money has Scott spent on lawsuits?

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

How much taxpayer money has Scott spent on lawsuits?

By Roger Caldwell

Florida is a state where Republicans controls both houses, the governorship and his cabinet. Basically, that means the state is conservative, and lawmakers and the governor have passed laws that infringes on a number of individual liberties. This wide range of assaults on individual liberties has kept the state of Florida in court litigations.

Since Governor Scott has been in office since 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed 12 lawsuits violating individual liberties, and there are other groups, lawyers, and organizations that have also filed lawsuits. The majority of lawsuits have been lost by the state, and there is no central state public record-tracking system to monitor the total cost of lawsuits. In many of these cases, the state has hired private law firms, and Floridian taxpayers have no idea what they are paying to settle the lawsuits.

Some say this is the price of doing business in the state, but when there is no transparency and accountability, the governor and lawmakers can do whatever they want to do without checks and balances. As long as the governor can operate without any impunity toward laws, he will keep implementing laws that hurt Floridians.

In the last 4 ½ years, the governor and lawmakers have been on the losing end of lawsuits such as the right to vote, freedom from unreasonable searches by government officials, wo-men’s rights, the protection of personal privacy, religious freedom, and freedom of speech. A dispute alleging Governor Scott and his staff subverted public-records laws could cost the state $700,000 according to an agreement released last week by the governor’s office.

The settlement is precedent-setting wrote the Times Herald/Tallahassee, in that it is the first time in state history that a sitting governor and attorney general have been sued successfully for violation of Florida’s public-record laws.

It is also the third legal defeat in recent months for the governor, and the second time he has agreed to use state dollars to end a lawsuit against him. Also signing the agreement is attorney Pam Bondi.

There was also a lawsuit dispute over the Grove property in Tallahassee, and the governor and his cabinet agreed to settle on both cases last week. In June, Governor Scott and his cabinet agreed to pay $55,000 in legal fees to settle a lawsuit alleging they violated the state’s Sunshine Laws again in the removal of longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner, Gerald Bailey.

There is no central state record to determine how much money has been spent on settling lawsuits and hiring private legal firms to represent the state. No one appears to know how the governor is paying every lawsuit he loses, and what percentage Florida taxpayers are paying.

It is time for Floridians to demand accountability and transparency with our governor, cabinet members, and lawmakers. Governor Scott must stop hiding information that Floridians should be aware of because it is the resident’s hard earned money. Spending money on lawsuits is a reality of how our governor runs the state. Floridians must demand and expect the governor to show the complete cost of every settled lawsuit since he has been in office in one central location.


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