Former Gov. Charlie Crist gave out his personal cell phone number to journalists and kept their favorite beers stocked in his office. In stark contrast, current Gov. Rick Scott and his staff seem to have an unhealthy amount of disdain for the press corps. It all began with the proposal of new rules and a change in the way pool reporters are selected. Now, as Miami Herald politics writer Marc Caputo found out, it has taken on a rather unprofessional, antagonistic, personal tone.
Florida has a tradition of trying to maintain government transparency, and our Sunshine Laws require that any meetings among multiple state politicians in which policy is discussed to be open to the media.
Well, Scott today was scheduled to have a coffee date with ten legislators. His staff maintained the meeting would be "purely social" and no policy would be discussed. Just politicians talking about coffee, we guess.
Caputo tried to get more information about the meeting, and Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, replied with a heaping load of snark and bitch:
"Coffee with 10 legislators -- purely social," he said by email. "But thanks for ruining a perfectly good Saturday with my family so you could be first to report the non-story."
Oh no, the press is ruining a perfectly good Saturday by forcing a man who is responsible for fielding questions for the governor to reply to an email! Poor Burgess.
Caputo pushed on and wanted to know which ten legislators would be attending. Burgess transferred the message to his private email and forwarded this message to higher-ups in the Scott staff.
"Do we have the names of the people who will be enjoying a smile and warm cup of coffee with the Governor on Tuesday morning? Mr. Marc Caputo, copied on this email, believes Floridians will be clamoring for this information and hopes to attract dozens of hits to his blog. I would like to accommodate him in the spirit of openness, transparency, and friendship."
Well, we're sure Burgess's terse reply actually makes this seem like a bigger story than it is, and he probably ensured more than a few dozen hits to Naked Politics.
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Incidentally, the meeting was canceled, and Scott enjoyed "a smile and a warm cup of coffee" with the lawmakers individually. This way they could discuss policy in private without the press present.
[Naked Politics: Rick Scott's caffeinated info stonewalling]