National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Florida: Governments resist citizens on public records

TALLAHASSEE — A long-running clash between state water managers and a celebrated environmental activist is heightening tension over aggressive tactics used by Florida governments pushing back against citizens seeking public records.

The battle also is putting Florida at the forefront of a rising trend.

Instead of turning over requests for records, a growing number of cities, school boards and other government agencies across the nation are suing people seeking documents — forcing them to decide whether it’s worth fighting for their request in court — at their own expense.

Legislation to outlaw this tactic cleared the Florida House this year, but failed in the Senate.

“It’s a form of harassment,” said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, at the University of Florida.

“People can just seek a public record and find themselves suddenly dragged into court. They weren’t expecting that,” he added. Read more…