New State Attorney Angela Corey has informed City officials that she will not tolerate any violations of Florida’s open government laws. According to the Times-Union, Corey told officials that violations caused “irreparable public injury.” She said the public considers “themselves victims of any violation of the Sunshine Law and victims of any violations of public records law because they become victims of a loss of trust.” She went on to state very clearly that her office would not tolerate any violations.
As the Times-Union editorial board states, her statements are a welcome change to how open government violations have been treated in the past. For all of his virtues, Harry Shorstein created the public perception that open government violations did not matter because of his public statements in declining to prosecute them. This unwillingness to prosecute led to a culture that failed to place much emphasis on compliance with the law.
Interestingly enough, the same day the Times-Union praised Ms. Corey’s statements, they also broke news of Shorstein’s application for the open US Attorney slot in the Middle District of Florida. Among those writing letters of recommendations for Shorstein? None other than the Grand Jury foreman that declined to pursue charges against officials involved in open government violations.