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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 12:29 PM
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Rubio lashes out as stressful term winds down: Destroys public documents
Rubio destroys public documents

Posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 23, 2008 7:40:11 PM

It was the weekend. House Speaker Marco Rubio was mad about the late-night showdown with Democrats that had prompted a 14-hour read-a-thon.
So he chose to vent to reporters, writing e-mails complaining about Democrats' anger-driven overreaction. In e-mail to the St Petersburg Times from his private account, he reportedly leveled some harsh words about whether Gov. Charlie Crist has command of the facts on some of the policies he has pitched.

To the Miami Herald, he wrote that no minority leader in the history of the Florida house has ever been empowered more than Democratic Leader Dan Gelber, and that no speaker in the last 20 years has been more accommodating to the minority party than I have.

So, after both newspapers blogged on the commentary, the Sentinel filed a public records request for the e-mails and was told by Rubio spokeswoman Jill Chamberlin that Rubio had destroyed them.
The e-mails were sent from his personal email account on his home computer offering his own observations about the session to one or more reporters. As he routinely does, he later deleted the emails. The House and the Speaker respect and observe the applicable laws, rules and policies relating to the retention and availability of records, Chamberlin offered in way of explanation.
We're no spring chickens, here. This kind of practice seems to be rampant. But it's also illegal.
Twice in the last year the Sentinel has received e-mails from Rubios private account as part of records requests.

It also doesnt fly with the First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen, who told Chamberlin Wednesday afternoon the records were public and should not have been destroyed.
Anything intended to perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge having to do w/public business is a public record, so an e-mail relating to public business sent from or to a representative is a public record regardless of whose computer the representative was using or who is paying for the internet service, she e-mailed back in a rapidly expanding chain of legal minds. So, e-mail sent from the representatives private computer using his private AOL account is subject to public disclosure if it relates to public business.

Even if the House claimed the records were exempt from disclosure, the House cant legally destroy them, she said.

Rubio lashes out as stressful term winds down

By Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary, Times Staff Writers
April 23, 2008 2:51 PM

TALLAHASSEE As Marco Rubio's time as House speaker dwindles, he finds himself double-teamed by the Senate and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Last weekend, he decided to vent.

After the House devolved into partisan chaos over a decision by Rubio's team to block Democratic debate on an education bill, Rubio dashed off a series of e-mails from his private e-mail account to reporters. He offered opinions on the Senate, Crist and issues such as a proposed gas tax cut.
But the speaker insisted the information, sent from a personal email account, was off the record, meaning the contents could not be quoted.
Such pointed commentary by a legislative leader is highly unusual in the closing days of a session when leaders act cagey in public and privately horse-trade priorities. The next few days will seal the fate of Rubio's ambitious goals of property tax cuts, government spending caps and improving the lives of black men.

Rubio is finding out, in both the short term and long term, that being Jeb Bush's ideological apprentice is radioactive.

Rubio, 36, the first speaker in Florida history who has led in the bright light of the blogosphere and its immediate impact on policy and politics, agreed to discuss the content of the e-mails in an on-the-record session.
He questioned whether Crist knew the fiscal implications of his idea to lift gasoline taxes for a week this summer. After learning that Crist was lobbying freshman House members to advocate a gas tax holiday, Rubio said he demanded that Crist's staff list what road projects they would cut to make up for a loss in gas tax money.


Rubio must cope with a shift in political dynamics: When his mentor, Jeb Bush, was governor, he usually was aligned with the House. The Senate was the third wheel. Now a centrist governor and Senate are lined up against the more conservative House.
Rubio has dealt with a lot of tumult in his two-year tenure, including scandals involving two former Republican lawmakers: Ralph Arza, a Rubio ally who resigned after making racial slurs to another lawmaker, and Bob Allen, who was convicted on a sex solicitation charge.


Rubio also saw his signature issue of property tax cuts battered in special sessions last year, exposing a chasm with the Senate and Crist. He has also fought the widespread sentiment that major property tax changes should be left for a powerful citizen panel, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.
"All the editorial boards wrote about how it should be deferred to them. Now we have deferred to them, and it's like they are all crazy, they have no credibility," he said of backlash at the panel's own struggle with the issue.

Against that backdrop, Rubio seems to be struggling to protect his legacy. He came in brimming with ideals, summed up in a book of 100 "innovative ideas" wrapped around his polished rhetoric and youthful charisma.


Rubio has earned accolades for his big ideas, but his public image has not always measured up to the ambition. The fight over property taxes in particular has left him seeming rash and unyielding at times. While the Senate has rejected any property tax legislation this year because of the billions in cuts already in place, Rubio's House has continued to push, including passing several proposals Wednesday. Democrats said it was purely to produce campaign literature for November elections.
Tensions between the House and governor's office are magnified by a feeling among Crist's aides that Crist won a decisive victory in 2006 in an otherwise bad year for Republicans. Because of that, they say, Crist's agenda should be given great weight, lest GOP lawmakers face attacks in the fall for cutting programs too deeply, not cutting gas taxes or doing too little to help the uninsured.


Rubio defended his team against criticism by Democrats that last week's meltdown was the result of heavy-handed partisanship by Majority Leader Adam Hasner and Whip Ellyn Bogdanoff.
"Adam Hasner is the most partisan Republican in the Florida House. That's his job," he said. "Ellyn Bogdanoff's job is to drive the agenda, not to make friends, but to make things happen They are two of the best appointments I've made."

The end of the line for Rubio is December 31, 2008. It cannot come soon enough.

Now, we have to stop his inevitable run for Miami-Dade Mayor in November, and on to the Governorship.

And fueled by Jeb Bush, it's what's on his mind.

More, for those who might question why Florida is in the mess it's in now:

'Welcome to Florida, home of sun, sand, a delusional governor and a heartless Legislature.', April 10, 2008

Republican add-ons may jeopardize paper-ballots bill (Florida), April 25, 2007


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