BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — State Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) will not face criminal charges stemming from complaints made by Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins and publisher Robert Burns, State Attorney Phil Archer announced Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated claims that Fine committed corruption by threat against a public servant, cyber-intimidation, voter fraud and stalking.
Jenkins and Burns also accused Fine of violating residency qualifications for his office and campaign finance laws.
In each case, prosecutors found that Fine’s actions didn’t rise to the level of criminal behavior or were permitted by Florida law.
“Although no criminal charges are being filed, I am concerned that the continued use of heated rhetoric on social media and public statements by both sides could produce a volatile and dangerous escalation we should all seek to avoid,” Archer said in a statement.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Stacey Salmons addressed each claim in a 10-page report on FDLE’s investigation.
According to the report, Jenkins accused Rep. Fine of committing corruption by threat against a public servant when he made comments in the media regarding the potential cutting of funding for school boards that passed face covering requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can tell you, if my school district requires masks, I will make sure they get hurt next year,” Rep. Fine- whose district includes parts of Brevard County- was quoted as saying in support of proposals to withhold funding from school boards that imposed mask mandates and potentially remove board members from office. “I’m not going to share what I will do, but it will hurt.”
According to the report, Jenkins - who was in support of mask mandates in schools- felt Fine’s comments were directed at her, as the two had “publicly sparred over the issue.”
Salmons wrote that Fine’s comments threatening to withhold or limit funding were directed at the Brevard County School Board and not Jenkins or any other public servant personally, and therefore didn’t constitute the crime of corruption by threat against a public servant.
Jenkins claimed Fine committed “cyber-intimidation by publication” when he shared her phone number on a public post to his political Facebook page back in July.
The post identified Jenkins by name and invited her constituents to contact her regarding mask mandates.
Salmons’ report confirms the claims made by Jenkins, but found Fine’s posting of her phone number was not done with the intent of inciting violence or any other kind of crime against Jenkins that would cause her to fear for her safety.
“The discussion of mask mandates by the Brevard County School Board had been widely publicized through the local media, and Ms. Jenkins’ support of mask mandates in schools was well-known to the public,” Salmons wrote. “Despite Representative Fine sharing her phone number in the Facebook post, Ms. Jenkins acknowledged that she did not change her number to avoid calls, texts, or voicemails…never failed to attend any school board meetings, and on one occasion, during a protest at her house, she offered protesters pizza and allowed her minor child to play outside in her front yard.”
The report also states that the phone number Jenkins referred to as her “personal” cell phone number was actually used for professional purposes and had already been shared publicly.
Robert Burns claimed Fine committed cyber-intimidation by referring to him online as a “rapist” and “convicted felon,” while sharing details of Burns’ criminal history on Facebook.
Salmons again found Fine didn’t post Burns’ information with the intent of inciting violence against him. The report goes on to note that Burns does in fact have a 2015 conviction on his record for domestic assault and was arrested in 2011 for “aggravated sexual assault of adult by force/forced sodomy,” and in 2016 for larceny of government property and making false official statements.
Salmons dismissed the stalking claim as it largely stemmed from the same allegations that led to the cyber-intimidation claims.
According to the report, FDLE thoroughly investigated the claims regarding Fine’s residency and campaign finance violations. Salmons again wrote that none of Fine’s actions constituted crimes in either case.
“The real loser is Brevard taxpayers, who now have had more than $200,000 of their tax dollars wasted on these frivolous legal proceedings,” Rep. Fine said in a Facebook post responding to the State Attorney’s decision. “I hope we all hold them accountable.”
Read Salmons’ full 10-page report below:
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