5 Things We Learned From the Jeb Bush Emails

The Jeb Bush emails reveal juicy details from his time as governor of Florida.

ByABC News
December 24, 2014, 2:26 PM

— -- Likely 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush announced earlier this month he would release 250,000 emails from his eight years as governor of Florida, describing the trove as “some funny ones, there's some sad ones, there's some serious ones," according to an interview with WPLG-TV, ABC News’ Miami affiliate.Bush said he would release them early next year in a searchable format, but the Washington Post got an early look at the massive cache through an open records request. Here are the five things we’ve learned from the Bush emails, so far:

1. A Look at Constituent Emails, Even the Unpleasant Ones

One of the more fascinating bits of insight we learned from the email release, thanks to the Washington Post, is just how much Bush was directly emailing with constituents, even angry ones. One man wrote Bush, “politicians make me sick, you make me sick.” The then-governor replied: “I am truly sorry you feel that way. Have a nice day.”

He then added a smiley face, showing he wasn’t just an early adopter of email, but emoticon use, as well. In another exchange, a woman wrote to him inquiring about the date of his wife’s birthday, and he quickly replied.

In another, a man wrote to Bush about what the Washington Post describes as a “messy domestic struggle between friends.” The man writes, “what should have been a messy divorce, seems to have turned into a criminal matter; with me in the middle.” Bush proceeded to take at least some sort of action, forwarding the email to an aide and asking her to look into the matter. It’s an interesting peek into the detail he took to deal with matters affecting Floridians, and how much he aggressively used email during his time as head of the state.

2. Emails Live Forever and He Knew It

We may know now that emails live forever and can end up becoming public at any time, but even in 1999 Bush knew one day the world could be reading his daily correspondence and nothing in email form is truly private. In a December 1999 message to staff, Bush ended a back and forth about vacation time by predicting this day would come, writing the messages “might make a newspaper one of these days.” Bush said, “I suggest that you guys have a verbal conversation about it rather than create a public document. :)”

Florida does have extensive public-records laws, another reason Bush may have known it was likely, or at least possible, the emails could be released publicly one day. It does allow for some exemptions, including legal issues. Despite the open records laws, Bush has said he’s going to release the trove as a sign of “transparency,” a likely nudging at his possible 2016 rivals on both sides of the aisle.