Governor’s Office Under Fire for SeaWorld Connection That Likely Resulted in Firing of DOE Employee

PETA Files for Release of Public Records After DOE Staffer Who Removed Agency's Shameless SeaWorld Promos Is Dismissed

For Immediate Release:
October 20, 2015

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Orlando, Fla. – PETA rushed a letter today to the Office of Open Government requesting access to all internal e-mails and other records relating to the recent dismissal of a Florida Department of Education (DOE) employee—which came following the removal of SeaWorld promotions from the department’s website after a review of information supplied by PETA about the company’s treatment of orcas. The promotions were later reposted. As reports indicate, SeaWorld has contributed $30,000 to the governor’s political committee. A SeaWorld lobbyist (and former aide to the governor) also reportedly communicated with the DOE, while the governor’s office contacted the DOE’s communications director shortly after PETA’s announcement of the DOE’s decision to remove the promotions.

“Reports suggest that the governor’s office may have deliberately interfered with the previously agreed-upon removal of SeaWorld’s promotions,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “The DOE staff made the right call by removing SeaWorld from its website, and PETA is calling on the governor’s office to come clean about its financial relationship with SeaWorld now and to reinstate the employee whom the department fired.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is calling on SeaWorld to develop ocean sanctuaries in which orcas could be rehabilitated and finally have the opportunity to engage in natural behavior that visitors could observe from nearby “whale watching” centers.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to the Office of Open Government follows.

October 20, 2015

Office of Open Government
Executive Office of the Governor

Dear Sir or Madam:

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and pursuant to the Florida Public Records Act, Fla. Stat. § 119.01–19, I request from the Office of the Governor

  • All public records to, from, concerning, or related to SeaWorld in any respect, from September 1, 2015, to present,  including but not limited to emails, notes, memoranda, and calendar entries reflecting calls or meetings.

If any of the records described above are considered to be exempt from release, please redact the portion of the record to which you are asserting an exemption, specify the specific legal authority for the exemption and the reasons that the information is deemed exempt with particularity, and produce the remainder of the record. Id. § 119.07 (d)–(f).

We respectfully request that production of the responsive documents be fulfilled without charge in light of PETA’s non-profit status, PETA has no commercial interest in the information, and releasing the requested records is in the public interest. If this request for a waiver or reduction of fees is denied and fees are expected to exceed $50.00, please notify me to this effect by telephone or e-mail before this request is processed.

To conserve resources, to the extent possible please provide the requested records to me via e-mail. Id. § 119.07(2)(a). I look forward to hearing from you promptly. Id. § 119.07(1)(c). Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Jared S. Goodman
Director of Animal Law
PETA Foundation

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.

Contact

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind