While government typically hires its own people to perform various functions, there are many times when officials contract with private companies to get that work done.
But does that mean the records of those businesses are now public record, like they are for the government? The answer is no, Attorney General Pam Bondi has decided.
State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, requested the opinion from Bondi after reaching out to the First Amendment Foundation to get clarification. He said he sought the written opinion after he said people approached business owners to make public records requests.
“While I strongly believe our comprehensive public access laws should provide citizens with the information that they need to monitor governmental agencies and their expenditure of public funds, I was very concerned that due to the lack of clarity relating to this law, the rights of private citizens and hardworking business owners were being jeopardized,” Simpson said, in a release.
Bondi did say, however, that a private business could be prompted to fulfill a public records request when that company is “acting on behalf of a public agency.”
“The opinion outlines several scenarios based on case law about what ‘acting on behalf of a public agency’ constitutes, and I encourage people to read it in full,” Simpson said. “I am grateful to the attorney general for publishing this opinion as I believe it will prevent unnecessary lawsuits, and lift a significant burden off the backs of Florida’s job creators.”
The full opinion is available by clicking here.
Updated 6/20/14 to include link to attorney general opinion.