Inside a 'self-serving' Florida state rep and DeSantis ally’s ploy to send councilman to prison: report
Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis staunch ally and Florida State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Brevard County) is "going after a city council member who had the temerity to look into one of" his colleagues, The Daily Beast reports.
"The most serious abuse of power I have seen in my time in elected office," Fine called it, although, according to the Beast, he has used his position of power to go after "drag queens, gay school children, and Disney."
Per the news outlet, Brevard County City Council Member John Dittmore told "The Daily Beast that he was friendly with Fine at the time and got involved in the dispute to save" a West Melbourne, Florida flood risk reduction project.
The Florida Commission on Ethics in April found "probable cause to believe…that" Fine "misused his position by threatening to take away State funding over a personal feud with" Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, "and that he interfered with Dittmore's "response to a public records request for communications related to" that dispute.
The news outlet reports "Jenkins incurred Fine's wrath by supporting mask mandates during the height of the pandemic. He accused her of supporting 'government sanctioned child abuse' and declared 'there's a special place in hell' for her."
The Beast notes:
Dittmore's more recent unpleasantness with Fine unfolded when somebody tipped him off that West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose—whom he considered a political foe and Fine ally—had switched his address to a post office box. Dittmore says that he began digging and soon discovered that Rose had sold his home in West Melbourne. He also determined that a house had been purchased in Rose's wife's name in a 55-plus community, the Bridgewater at Viera Master Association, which is 15 miles outside West Melbourne.
"This guy's calling for me to be prosecuted now," Dittmore said. "Full investigation and prosecution. Oh God. The Randy Fine follies."
The Beast reports:
Dittmore says he conferred with West Melbourne City Attorney John Cary and was told that a single city council member also has the power to issue a subpoena. As Dittmore tells it, he supplied the particulars to Cary, who drew up a document marked 'SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM…THE STATE OF FLORIDA.' Dittmore signed it, as a judge would a court-ordered subpoena, and it was emailed to Bridgewater on Aug. 11.
Bridgewater then produced a copy of a document signed by Rose, attesting that as of this summer he was the primary 55-plus resident of a home that most certainly was not in West Melbourne. At a Sept. 6 council meeting, Dittmore cited the document and suggested Rose was ineligible to serve as mayor.
Fine "posted online a letter to the Florida Ethics Commission and various law enforcement agencies asking for 'a criminal investigation' into what he called a 'fake subpoena… demanding private confidential information on family members of a political adversary.'"
He wrote, "We do not live in a state where a small town politician can 'demand your papers.' In order to send a clear message that we do not live in a police state, I hope you will investigate and/or prosecute this to the fullest."
According to the report, the letter accuses Dittmore of breaking two Florida laws, suggesting, "If found guilty of these two crimes, Mr. Dittmore would be subject to up to 10 years in prison."
The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).
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