The question is now being raised whether or not the state’s Lt. Governor broke the law by using state aircraft to whisk him to a First Coast vacation.
“Chapter 287 of Florida statutes says that state aircraft and motor vehicles can only be used when necessary to carry out official state business,” Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Democratic Party, said in an interview. “I would love to hear Charlie Crist’s lieutenant governor answer how it doesn’t violate that. I’m not a lawyer, but the language is pretty simple here.”
The Sun Sentinel first reported on a trip Kottkamp took on a Florida Highway Patrol airplane with his wife and son to St. Augustine on April 28, 2007. He spent two days in the city, which were marked “personal days” on his official calendar, before the plane (a twin-engine Piper Navajo) picked the family up for a return trip to Tallahassee.
Florida law says planes operated by state agencies are “available for official state business.” The criteria for determining appropriate uses, the law says, is “whether the use of a motor vehicle or aircraft is necessary to carry out state official or employee job assignments.”
In addition to the FHP plane rides, Kottkamp logged 365 flights on separate planes that are part of Florida’s executive airfleet reserved for top officials. Two-thirds of those flights involved getting Kottkamp to and from Fort Myers, where he owns a home.
Until July, commuting by state aircraft was illegal. Legislators quietly changed that language last year to allow the practice.
But the Sun Sentinel found that of the 248 flights that involved picking up or dropping off the lieutenant governor in Fort Myers, 208 came before July 1 — when the anti-commuting law was still in place.