Tom Grady accuses Crist of violating open records laws in suit

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— Rep. Tom Grady sued Gov. Charlie Crist today, accusing him of violating the state’s Public Records Act by failing to respond to requests for records and evidence in a pending lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court by attorney Grady, R-Naples, and attorney Matt Gaetz, is the latest salvo in a battle that began in June in Collier Circuit Court. That’s when two campaign contributors sued Crist and demanded their contributions be refunded because he switched parties, opting not to run as a Republican, but as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate against Republican candidate, Marco Rubio.

Crist’s lawyer wasn’t fazed by the new lawsuit, which he hasn’t seen.

“We only know about it because Mr. Grady issued a press release to the whole world, as he has done before,” Weinstein said. “Mr Grady and the ambassador appear to enjoy filing multiple lawsuits, putting out press releases and are fans of class actions and filing appeals when judges disagree with them. Are we sure they are Republicans?”

Grady lost a motion to certify a lawsuit by two campaign contributors as a class action to represent up to 8,000 contributors to Crist’s campaign before he announced on April 29 that he’d run as an independent. The announcement came after he trailed Rubio, the former House Speaker, in the polls.

The new lawsuit alleges Crist failed to respond to public records requests made by former Ambassador John Rood, who sought e-mails and other records to prove Crist made “significant policy shifts” after leaving the Republican Party. It alleges Crist hasn’t produced a single public record in response to Rood’s requests.

Grady has noted that Crist is a supporter of open and transparent government, was awarded twice for his openness in office when he was attorney general and governor, but is failing to live by the bar he sets for his administration and the state.

“Florida has some of the strongest open government laws in America,” Gaetz said in a press release. “Our courts can ensure that no opportunistic politicians are allowed to act outside these laws.”

Grady also had noted Crist failed to show up for a deposition Monday, but Weinstein said he’d filed a motion for protective order and didn’t have to.

Grady has appealed Collier Circuit Judge Jack Schoonover’s denial of the class-action certification and it’s pending before the Second District of Appeal in Lakeland. Grady expects a decision as early as next week and has set up a website detailing the dispute at cristrefunds.com.

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