Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Delete Key

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) may have more of a problem with his transition team’s deleted e-mail than just an embarrassment of electronic oopsy.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says he only learned within the past two weeks that emails from the transitional period between his election last fall and his swearing-in as governor had been irretreviably lost.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, however, the Texas company that set up the email accounts notified Scott’s transition team by mid-March that emails from 44 out of 47 accounts, including Scott’s own, had been permanently deleted.

Documents obtained by the Times/Herald show that a staffer with Harris Media emailed the transition team on January 26 to say that all their accounts would be closed at the end of the month and they would “no longer have access to your e-mail inboxes, contacts and messages.”

According to Florida blogger Matthew Hendley, “The man who was Scott’s attorney during his transition period as governor-elect says members of Scott’s staff simply didn’t understand that the emails would be deleted when they closed their account with the private hosting company, Rackspace.”

Hendley notes, however, that “Rackspace has an agreement that customers must sign or accept to when they purchase the company’s services. Among those conditions are statements that make it very clear that if you don’t ask for emails to be archived, they’ll be deleted and even recommends archiving services for customers with ‘regulatory requirements.'”

The deletions represent a violation of Florida public records law, which provides for penalties ranging from a $500 fine up to impeachment for an official who “knowingly violates” the law.

While I doubt that Mr. Scott himself will actually face any legal trouble himself — hey, he managed a company that ripped off Medicare for billions and he skated away from indictment and got himself elected governor — it could be electronic karma coming around for someone like him who is notoriously allergic to maintaining written records and doesn’t believe in using e-mail.

HT to Zandar.