Now he’s going after a city council member who had the temerity to look into one of Fine’s allies. In typical bullying fashion, he’s calling for a criminal investigation and ranting about “the most serious abuse of power I have seen in my time in elected office.”
Guess he does not have a mirror.
Fine used his position of power to champion the Stop WOKE Act and its effort to police what colleges can teach about race and gender—legislation so antithetical to academic freedom that a federal judge called it “positively dystopian.”
He used his bully pulpit to imperil funding for an LGBTQ+ group that put on a drag-queen story time during Pride, and he defended a bill banning minors from drag shows by saying, “If it means erasing a community because you have to target children, then damn right we ought to do it.”
And if Fine still does not recognize a power abuser when he sees one, he need only consult a report from the Florida Commission on Ethics in April.
It found “probable cause to believe…that he misused his position by threatening to take away State funding over a personal feud with a Brevard County School Board member, and that he interfered in a council member’s response to a public records request for communications related to the dispute.”
The school board member was Jennifer Jenkins, who unseated Tina Descovich, future co-founder of Moms for Liberty and, as of this month, a DeSantis appointee to the ethics commission. 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.
Fine’s continuing fury proved petty as well as personal last year, when the West Melbourne Police Department had failed to invite him to a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, but issued a blanket invitation to the school board, including Jenkins. Fine threatened to cut state funding to the Special Olympics and also said he would get DeSantis to kill a West Melbourne flood risk-reduction project.
City Council Member John Dittmore would later tell The Daily Beast that he was friendly with Fine at the time and got involved in the dispute to save the project. He says that Disney-foe Fine had embarked on a Disney cruise and could only be reached by text as he sought to smooth things over and explain his absence from the fundraiser guest list was an oversight and he was welcome to joint.
“I’m not going to jack shit where that whore is at,” Fine texted Dittmore.
“Jenkins just put your project and Special Olympics funding on the veto list.”
Fine would deny calling Jenkins a whore and threatening to use his influence with DeSantis to kill the flood project. He was proven a liar when Florida Today obtained copies of the texts after Dittmore complied with an open records request. The messages then became part of the ethics commission investigation.
By then, Dittmore had joined those who view Fine as a self-serving bully. 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.
Dittmore knew residents in those communities have to sign a federal affidavit attesting to which resident meets the age requirement. And he wanted to see if the mayor had signed such a document, which could be proof that he no longer lived in the city he governed.
The West Melbourne City Charter said the city council can investigate any city department office or agency and “for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence.”
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.
As reported by Florida Today, Rose has acknowledged selling his house and says he is now living as a tenant in a West Melbourne house. But at the meeting he evaded the question of residence by suggesting that the document had been obtained illegally.
At one point in the meeting, Dittmore complained that Fine had telephoned the city attorney about the subpoena, suggesting they could both face criminal charges.
By Friday morning, Fine was publicly fantasizing about getting Dittmore locked up.
He 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.”
The letter contended that Dittmore violated two state laws. “If found guilty of these two crimes, Mr. Dittmore would be subject to up to 1src years in prison,” he wrote.
“We do not live in a state where a small town politician can ‘demand your papers,’” Fine wrote dramatically. “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.”
Cary did not respond to a request for comment on what advice he gave Dittmore about the subpoena, but the council has asked him to consult with the state attorney general about whether proper procedures were followed.
Rose and Fine also did not return calls from The Daily Beast. Dittmore said he is confident that he acted within the law.
“This guy’s calling for me to be prosecuted now,” Dittmore said. “Full investigation and prosecution. Oh God.”
“The Randy Fine follies,” he said.