(Bloomberg Politics) — Those interested in a closer look at Jeb Bush’s two terms as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007 can now scan thousands of emails posted by American Bridge, an opposition research group and political action committee that focuses on Republicans. The group said it obtained the correspondence through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Florida Department of State.
American Bridge called the emails “the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scrutinizing Jeb’s record.” The Washington Post first reported on the emails earlier this week.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the emails include messages involving Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy who was returned to his father after his mother drowned while trying to leave the island; Terri Schiavo, a terminally ill woman whose husband pulled her off life support; and the 2000 Florida presidential recount, which ultimately resulted in Bush’s brother George becoming president. Not included are any emails containing sensitive or legal information exempt from public records laws, according to American Bridge.
But the database does include many emails from Florida residents who had concerns about health care, disability benefits or long-term care (LTC) services.
One Outlook email folder on the American Bridge site, from the second half of 2001, includes many e-mails complaining about a policy proposal that might have pushed many Medicaid users, including Medicaid users in nursing homes, to make more use of mail-order pharmacy benefits. Other Florida residents wrote to ask Bush to approve Medicaid coverage for experimental stem call treatment for a woman with Crohns disease. Bush aides forwarded many of those e-mails to the Florida Health Care Administration.
A woman with a severe head injury wrote to ask Bush for help with speeding up the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim determination process. An aide told the woman that a governor has very limited powers to intervene in the SSDI process and encouraged her to continue to work with her members of Congress to get the matter resolved.
A high school teacher begged Bush for help with keeping her parents in their own home. “Why is it the United States doesn’t appear to value the elderly as other countries do?” the teacher asked. “Our older citizens are our most valuable resource and have such great knowledge and wisdom to share.”
The Bush emails became a point of interest two weeks ago, when Bush announced that he had decided to “actively explore the possibility” of running for president, and that he planned to release all 250,000 of his emails from his time as governor, along with an e-book on policy, sometime in 2015.