City of Milton Sues Mayor over Public Records

Posted on May 15, 2024 by Romi White

The City of Milton this morning filed a civil lawsuit against its mayor, Heather Lindsay, seeking her compliance with Florida’s Public Records Act after she has refused to comply with records request, including some around 10 months old.

The council approved taking the action in a 6-2 vote last night with opposition from Council members Mike Cusack and Marilyn Farrow. Lindsay was absent from the meeting, marking her second consecutive absence from an official City meeting.

City Attorney Alex Andrade back on July 22, 2023 had submitted a public records request to Lindsay, seeking all communication between Lindsay and the former City Clerk Dawn Molinero, specifically cellular phone and emails regarding Scott Collins, who at that time was a candidate for City Manager. One month later Lindsay was also asked to submit all emails, phone call logs and text messages with Molinero and Molinero’s attorney, Matthew Hargraves for July 1 through August 23, 2023.

Subsequently, Lindsay sent an August 31 email to Andrade, asking why her communications with Molinero were “relevant” to any work he was doing on behalf of the City. “You take direction from the government majority, and there has been no action item pertaining to investigating me,” she stated. 

According to today’s complaint, on September 15, 2023, nearly two months after the initial July 22 request, Lindsay produced an “incomplete record” of her communications with Molinero and Hargraves, excluding a “significant periods of time” for which records existed but were simply not produced.

Per the complaint, Lindsay has refused to produce her related cell phone activity logs and all text messages, text message logs and email
exchanges with Molinero and Hargraves to date.

The Milton City Council on March 21, 2024, in response to multiple recent instances where Lindsay had exhibited erratic and abusive behavior towards City employees, expressed a desire to censure her and directed Andrade to review documents to determine whether outside agencies should investigate Lindsay’s conduct.

Accordingly, Andrade submitted a public records request for all emails and text message records between Lindsay and the following individuals for the time period of August 1, 2023, to March 25, 2024: Matthew Hargraves, Dawn Molinero, Pam Mitchell and Scott Collins. So far Lindsay has refused to provide those records. Communication the following individuals has also been requested: Lauren Cooper, Mike Cusack, Marilyn Farrow, David Farrow, Chance Johnmeyer, Renee Johnmeyer, Theresa Messick, Jimmy Messick, Sherry Chapman, Robert Leek, Tom Powers, and Joy Powers. 

Lindsay has also not provided a response to a May 1 records request for emails she sent in a Florida Bar Complaint she unilaterally filed against Andrade on behalf of the City – without Council approval. The Florida Bar on February 8, 2024 dismissed her complaint, calling it “political” and outside of the organization’s scope.

Therefore, the complaint asserts that Lindsay violated that duty and Florida’s Public Records Act by imposing on Milton and Andrade an unjustified delay which continues to this day and that Lindsay has never claimed that any records within her possession are subject to a statutory exemption or are confidential pursuant to any section of the Public Records Act.