Newly released text messages from the personal cell phone of Tom Barwin show the city manager — who has denied conducting city business on his private email account — occasionally sent and received texts discussing city matters.
Sarasota’s City Manager is the most recent in a slew of people in power under fire for using a private email account for work related business.
Lawyers representing Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin in a public records lawsuit claim the plaintiff in the case has no substantive legal argument since every public record from the top administrator’s private email account dating back to 2012 has been recovered and made public.
An attorney for City Manager Tom Barwin said an initial review does not suggest Barwin conducted substantive city business via private email, though critics see issues.
A partial examination of City Manager Tom Barwin’s personal Gmail account revealed the top administrator’s personal email account contained more than 100 public records he failed to forward to the city.
A lawsuit filed Thursday against Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin and the city alleges that the top administrator’s frequent failure to produce city-related discussions from his private Gmail account as part of numerous public records requests broke state open records law and eroded public trust in local government.
On Monday, in the wake of public and media scrutiny regarding his use of a private email account to discuss some city business, City Manager Tom Barwin read from a prepared statement and pledged to comply with an ongoing search for any messages that might be subject to the state’s Sunshine Law.
City Manager Tom Barwin will surrender his personal cell phone and laptop to the city attorney pending an independent forensic examination of the devices to ensure all stored city-related matters are made public, following recent revelations Barwin has extensively used his private email account to conduct city business.
The city has hired an outside lawyer to defend City Manager Tom Barwin in looming litigation stemming from his years-long use of private email to conduct city business — and it could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.