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Palm Coast Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 4 years ago

FDLE searches Supervisor of Elections Office

by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement served a search warrant Friday, Oct. 3 at Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks' office as part of an ongoing investigation stemming from a complaint involving the Flagler County Canvassing Board, FDLE spokesman Steve Arthur said.

The FDLE is not releasing any more information at this time, he said, because the case is an active investigation.

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office posted a deputy outside the Supervisor of Elections Office as FDLE officers executed the search warrant, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Commander Bob Weber said.

FDLE officials said Oct. 1 that the FDLE was reviewing a complaint about Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks’ taping of two county officials — County Attorney Al Hadeed and County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen — to determine whether the taping was illegal, and that the agency was also checking into whether a Canvassing Board meeting violated the state’s Sunshine Law.

The case at that point was not a formal investigation, officials said. Now, the investigation is formal, but FDLE officials would not specify Oct. 3 whether the active investigation concerns the taping, the possible Sunshine Law violation, or both.

Taping a conversation without informing the people involved that they’re being taped is a third-degree felony in Florida, but there are exceptions that allow for the taping of events like public meetings where there is no legitimate expectation of privacy.

The legal question surrounding Weeks’ taping of the two officials is whether the conversation Weeks taped took place in the context of a government meeting. Hadeed, and County Administrator Craig Coffey, said it did not. Weeks said it did.

Hadeed and Ericksen were in a room in the Government Services building when they were taped. They had arrived there a few minutes late for a canvassing board meeting, which had by then adjourned to move to another room. The two men stayed in the first room to talk privately, unaware Weeks had left her cell phone in the room, with the recording app switched on.

Weeks then played a portion of the recording at a subsequent canvassing board meeting, and sent it to her political supporters and to WNZF. The Daytona-Beach News-Journal reported Oct. 1 that two elections experts believe Weeks was not in the wrong.

FDLE officers would not elaborate on the nature of the complaint involving the Canvassing Board and a possible Sunshine Law violation.

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