06-12-2012, 09:39 PM #1
What Constitutes County Business?
Brannon testifies he's not sure what county business is
June 12, 2012 4:31 PM
TOM McLAUGHLIN / Daily News
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Two-term Walton County Commissioner Scott Brannon testified Tuesday that portions of Florida’s Sunshine Law confuse him.
“I’m not sure what county business is,” he told the court at a hearing to decide whether he should be held in contempt of a 2009 court order.
The conducting of county business and whether Brannon used several personal email accounts to do it are key elements of the case attorney Matt Gaetz, representing activist Suzanne Harris, laid out at the hearing.
County Judge David Green took the testimony under advisement and said he will rule on the civil contempt issue in the next couple of weeks.
The court order signed by Green in 2009 specifically states: “The Walton County Board of County Commissioners and each individual commissioner shall use only his or her official county email account when transacting official business.”
Brannon provided testimony Tuesday that confirmed his ownership of three personal email accounts. Gaetz said he used all three to conduct public business.
Gaetz showed Brannon several emails he’d entered into evidence, including one in which Brannon ordered a county employee to use county funds to buy him a gavel emblematic of his tenure as commission chairman.
“It’s hanging on the wall at my office now,” Brannon said.
In the case of the gavel and in several other instances, Brannon acknowledged sending an email from a private account, but disagreed with Gaetz’s assessment that the emails represented a county official conducting public business.
“I don’t know the definition of transacting county business. You haven’t told me yet,” he told Gaetz.
Brannon’s attorneys argued that the emails did not violate the court order because the business being discussed was not completed as a result of the email discussion.
“None of these emails convey a transaction of county business,” attorney Bill Warner said.
Other attorneys for Brannon tried to persuade Green that Harris was baiting him by dragging him into conversations about public business on his private email accounts.
A federal investigation that Harris claims she is cooperating in came up only briefly, as Brannon attorney Clayton Adkinson attempted to grill Harris when she took the stand.
Adkinson wanted to know if the FBI had asked her to discuss public business with Brannon using his private email address.
Harris testified that the FBI had told her to continue to communicate with Brannon, but did not tell her to communicate using a specific email account.
06-12-2012, 09:56 PM #2
The Sunshine Law serves only to make lawmakers feel good. It's like that silly word that means nothing to liars, "transparency".
06-13-2012, 01:52 PM #3
I agree the sunshine law seems, in many instances, not only vague but totally useless. Under it, you can confiscate personal computers to search everything that is in them. Where is our 4th Amendment protection? There are more than 1000 exemtions granted to persons and agencies to the sunshine law. How did they get those exemptions and why? There is certainly a need and requirement for openess in all government and proper surveillance of those participating in its function. I am not real sure our Florida Sunshine Law meets the necessary requirements.
Last edited by Andy A; 06-13-2012 at 02:23 PM.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-13-2012, 02:53 PM #4
A judge told him to stop using personal emails to conduct county business back in 2009.
Is Brannon so stupid he can't follow simple instructions? I am tired of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on these easily avoidable lawsuits.
Last edited by Zebraspots; 06-13-2012 at 02:55 PM.Basically, I'm just passing through on my way to Australia.
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