Roughly 36 hours before the first of 11 heated-related deaths occurred at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which lost air conditioning after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to one of the facility's transformers, Rick Scott's personal cell phone reportedly received a series of voice mails asking for "immediate assistance."
Now those voice mails are gone.
As first reported by CBS Miami's Jim DeFede
, last Sunday, Scott's office confirmed that four voice mails from the center have indeed been deleted. Scott's office says the calls never alluded to any emergency, and that the information from the voice mails was passed along to appropriate agencies.
However, the center's administrators are saying the calls to Scott were actual pleas for help.
"Why not just keep it?" said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation to the Miami Herald
. "It's bothersome to say the least. Right now, we're in a he said, she said."
Scott's office says the voice mails fell under the legal category of "transitory messages," which basically means they can be deleted lawfully once they "become obsolete or lose administrative value."
"The voice mails were not retained because the information from each voice mail was collected by the governor's staff and given to the proper agency for handling," a Scott spokeswoman said in a Sunday statement to the Herald.
"Every call was returned."
Over the past week, state officials have blocked admissions and suspended the operating license
for the center. Scott also issued an emergency ruling demanding all Florida nursing homes install backup generators
within 60 days.
Administrators with the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills have since filed a lawsuit
seeking to block Scott's administration from cutting off their Medicaid payments and their license.
The deaths of the 11 elderly nursing home residents are still being investigated.