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Florida Gov. Rick Scott defends payout in records lawsuit as questions arise over money source

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is defending the use taxpayer money to pay a hefty legal settlement, but there are questions about whether his administration was transparent in how it got the money.

State officials last week paid $700,000 to Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews to settle seven lawsuits. The lawsuits contended that Scott and other officials flouted Florida's public records law.

Scott says it is legitimate to have taxpayers pay to settle the lawsuit, because it arose out of his public duties.

But the Scott administration paid $120,000 for the settlement out of an account for office expenses and operations. They got legislative approval for the account weeks before the settlement was finalized, and the paperwork does not mention the settlement.

Sen. Tom Lee said using taxpayer money for the settlement is legitimate, but he said the "proper process was not followed."

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