Florida clamps down on COVID-19 records, taking a ‘so sue me’ attitude, transparency advocates say

Records requesters seeking information about COVID-19 in Florida face long delays and large fees.

“But perhaps more worrisome, we’re often hearing that some agencies will stonewall, fail to respond, and provide nothing, for months,” said Pam Marsh, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida. “It’s basically a ‘so sue me’ kind of attitude, daring the requestor to enforce the law.”

It’s disappointing to those advocating for transparency in Florida, which has had a reputation of openness.

“The time of a public health emergency is the time to double down on transparency and assertively push out information,” said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism.

Marsh and LoMonte are quoted in an April story by USA TODAY Network – Florida, which calls out the state’s clampdown on records.