State Representative Randy Fine has once again brought a 2015 incident with Deputy Mayor Kenny Johnson (22 years old at the time) and a 17 year old student, back into the news cycle. The question most people keep asking is why?
There have now been a total of 3 investigations into the incident. In 2015, Johnson was arrested for alleged transmission of an inappropriate text message to a 17 year old student he met at Florida Institute of Technology. The mother of the young woman saw the message and contacted the police. The Palm Bay police department conducted a thorough investigation which resulted in all charges being dropped.
During the investigation, Johnson a former Division I college football player, was removed from his position as an assistant football coach by Brevard Public Schools.
After the charges were dropped, the Brevard County Courts decided to expunge the record of the arrest which under Florida Law gives Johnson the legal right to deny the arrest ever occurred, and all records of the incident be destroyed.
So it is the position of the State of Florida that by law, this incident never occurred. Subsequently, a few years later, Johnson became an A+ certified volunteer for Brevard Public Schools, and passing a background check conducted by Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson became well known for his mentorships and programs with the youth and in 2018 was awarded the Partner of Year by the School Board for his performance.
In 2018, Johnson decided to run for Palm Bay City Council. Late in the campaign, Johnson’s arrest and mug shot were leaked online by fake Facebook accounts by supporters of his opponent. The campaign addressed the allegations, and Johnson went on to win the election by a landslide becoming the youngest person to be elected in Palm Bay’s history.
Now enters Randy Fine.
The very first action Johnson took after being sworn in was fire then Palm Bay City Manager, Gregg Lynk. Lynk and Fine were friends, and records show that Fine would use Lynk for favors within the city. Johnson also defeated former City Councilman Tres Holton who was instrumental in the hiring of Lynk, as well as a very close friend of Fine. Holton still currently works with Fine on several lobbying issues.
In early March of 2019, a popular Facebook page called Randy Fine Not So Fine emerged. The page is run by a group of conservative Brevard Republicans who have been unhappy with broken promises on the 2nd Amendment, and what they view as corruption in Fine’s campaign finances, and failure to live in the district he was elected to represent.
The page quickly grew in popularity, and like hundreds of others, Johnson ‘liked’ the page. Fine went through everyone who liked the page, and began making threats. Johnson was not excluded. In fact, Fine went as far as to text message Johnson’s cell phone and threaten him directly. The exchange is below.
Additionally, just before this exchange, Johnson voted against a resolution to support a bill proposed by Randy Fine. Fine, who is very sensitive about votes to support his bills, immediately took to Facebook to call him corrupt for the vote.
Immediately following the text messages from Fine telling Johnson “game on,” he took to Facebook and published Johnson’s personal cell phone number asking his followers to call him and complain about his vote not supporting Fine’s bill.
Fine’s bill eventually never even made it to the floor for a vote that year.
As seen in the text messages, Fine told Johnson that he believed Johnson’s former campaign manager and cousin Robert Burns was promoting the Randy Fine Not So Fine page, and told Johnson that he would hold him accountable for it.
Johnson contacted Burns, and made him aware of the conversation. As a result, Burns contacted Fine by text message. That exchange is below. (It is a screen recording. Press play to view it)
That would not be the end of it, but it’s important to know that as seen here, Fine new at least no later than March of 2019, and likely during October of 2018 when it was in the papers, about the arrest and its circumstances.
Over the following year, Robert Burns became an outspoken critic of both Randy Fine, and newly elected County Commissioner Bryan Lober who had both made national headlines bullying and threatening private citizens who criticized them. Burns has been relentless in fighting this type of governing style by local Brevard officials.
In August of 2019, Burns founded The Space Coast Rocket with the exclusive focus to inform the public of local political issues. Both Fine and Lober participated in interviews with the publication in its early stages. However, once articles were published that were critical of their actions, they took aim at Johnson, making good on Fine’s threats previously.
Early February 2020, this publication published an article after receiving documentation that Melbourne Vice Mayor Paul Alfrey lied about retiring from the Melbourne Police Department, and instead was forced to resign or be fired after several investigations into his conduct.
Alfrey in-turn took to Facebook and vehemently denied the allegations with days of posts about the issue. Fine, Lober, and others who Burns had been critical of quickly came to Alfrey’s defense. Alfrey is also a close friend of Fine and has worked on his election campaigns.
On February 14th, Alfrey made the following Facebook post.
In the comments of this post, Fine, Alfrey, Lober, Melbourne City Councilmen Tim Thomas and Mark LaRusso, make jokes about a threat Fine states he’s about to make good on.
One week later, a robocall went out to thousands of residents in Brevard County. The call was designed to sound like an official emergency alert and named Johnson and Burns specifically. The call made it sound like something recently happened, and Johnson was a threat to children. It sparked panic in the community, resulting in Palm Bay City Hall and Brevard Public Schools to be flooded with calls.
The disclaimer at the end of the call stated it was paid for by political action committee Leadership for Florida’s Future, which is run by Anthony Pedicini; Fine’s current re-election campaign consultant.
Lober went on to make a video of the robocall and publish it to his Facebook page. You can hear the audio of the call in the post below.
Once it was figured out by the public that this robocall was about the 2015 incident and nothing new, Fine began receiving backlash over it from the community on Facebook. Both Fine and Lober in the following days adamantly denied having any involvement with the call, but began making posts as if they had just learned of this information from the call and demanding new investigations from law enforcement and the school board.
The following day, Fine responded to the allegations again denying he financed the call. He went on to call Johnson a pedophile, and stating no one should allow their children around him. Keep in mind that Fine had this exact same information well over a year prior to this robocall going out, as we have shown. Never calling for an investigation, never warning the public of what he now calls an immediate threat to children’s safety. Instead, laughing and joking about it openly on social media. The question is why? The answer is dirty politics, revenge, and a vendetta.
Alfrey, who is currently running for Mayor of Melbourne isn’t exempt from the hypocrisy as well. On Facebook the following day, he also denied his involvement with the call, despite making jokes about the “foreshadowing” of it a week prior.
But we know that Alfrey not only knew about this incident a week prior to the robocall; he knew about it over a year prior. We also know that not only did he know about it, but he went as far to DEFEND Johnson publicly on Facebook nearly a year prior when the allegation was posted again in a conservative facebook group which at the time was administered by Vic Luebker. How do we know? Because he sent Robert Burns, who he was friends with at the time, text messages to brag about coming to Kenny’s defense. Those messages are below.
It didn’t stop there.
Two days after the call, Brevard County Commission Chair Bryan Lober, a former criminal defense attorney, offered a reward of $500 for anyone who could produce the expunged records.
This action caused an outpouring of criticism from the legal community of Lober’s efforts to undermine the wishes of the court of destroying the records. Legal experts believed he also violated the professional conduct rules for Florida attorney’s.
In turn, Robert Burns filed a formal complaint with The Florida Bar.
Lober’s actions have put his law license in jeopardy, and he has had to hire a law firm to defend him in this investigation. His attorney’s response to the complaint is below. The investigation is on going. (The response in 10 pages long and you must click on the image to cycle through the pages)Scannable_Document_on_May_28_2020_at_3_43_12_PM
A few weeks later, Burns attended a press conference held by the County to give the first update on the response to the Coronavirus. Burns was sitting in the audience, silently live streaming the press conference for the public on The Space Coast Rocket.
Commissioner Lober can be seen on camera texting Brevard County Sheriff’s office to have them forcibly remove Burns from the publicly advertised meeting on public property. In a response to Florida Today questioning him about the issue, Lober stated the BCSO acts autonomously from the County Commission implying he had nothing to do with Burns’ removal. However, a public records request of the text messages Lober sent to a BCSO Lieutenant, revealed that is exactly what happened. In fact, while being removed from the conference, Burns was still live-streaming, and the deputy can be heard confirming it was at the direction of Lober.
As a result of this action, Lober is currently under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Director Danille Carroll, and Burns has noticed the county of him filing a civil rights lawsuit against the County for blatantly violating his 1st Amendment rights.
Lober and Fine continued, both demanding the School Board initiate ANOTHER investigation into the allegations.
As a result of the pressure from Lober and Fine, BPS Superintendent Mark Mullins temporarily deactivated Johnson’s volunteer status on March 5th, while the district reviewed its own handling of the case.
However, like Johnson, Mullins has also been on the receiving end of Fine’s bullying tactics.
In June of 2018, the School Board selected Dr. Mullins from a field of 12 candidates as its new Superintendent. Fine was not happy, and wrote a letter to the school board from his official State Representative Letterhead demanding they nix their selection of Mullins over a personal gripe. Despite the demand, Mullins was chosen unanimously by the board.
Fine, not happy with the response of the School Board with his complaint of Johnson decided to go around them and directly to the Commissioner of Education and personal friend, Richard Cocoran. Fine convinced State to open yet another investigation into the 2015 incident. The investigation went on for months while investigators contacted staff from over 5 years ago to re-question them about the incident.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Cocoran sent a letter to the School Board and Johnson stating:
“The office of Professional Practices Services has concluded its preliminary review and determined at this time further action by this office is not warranted.”
That is still not good enough though for Fine who has called for Deputy Mayor Johnson’s removal from office.
In a separate letter from Cocoran to Superintendent Mullins, he reveals that it was founded that in 2015, the BPS Human Resources department failed to notify the State of the arrest in a timely manner in accordance with Florida law.
He went on to state that since this was before his administration, a rule change in 2019 for reporting timelines, and before Mullins was even the Superintendent, that no action would be taken for the failure of reporting to the Department.
Mullins said he didn’t know why the state was never contacted, but that the reporting process has since been strengthened under his leadership and that of Deputy Superintendent Beth Thedy, which Corcoran’s letter acknowledged.
In a comment to Florida Today; School Board Chairwoman Misty Belford said she felt Mullins bore no responsibility for the failure to report.
“It’s not something that would be handled by an area superintendent,” Belford said. “Those issues are typically handled in HR, and both the assistant superintendent in human resources and the labor relations person who would have done the investigation and taken action are no longer with the district.”
So the Palm Bay Police Department is done with it, Brevard Public Schools (twice), the Florida Department of Education, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Brevard County Courts, and the citizens of Palm Bay who elected Johnson overwhelmingly in spite of the allegations.
Who is not done with it? Randy Fine.
In two days worth of Facebook posts now, Fine has taken great liberties and interpretations absent of reality, and mischaracterizing and even adding to PARTS of Cocoran’s letter demanding FURTHER investigation into the incident.
Fine has now alleged that this was a cover up for a powerful local politician, despite the incident happening nearly 4 years before Johnson ever ran for office. He then goes on to make the outrageous allegation that the Brevard County School Board is potentially actively covering for sexual predators.
The last 3 days of Facebook posts on Fine’s campaign page have been exclusively about Johnson and Burns.
Burns recently consulted for Fine’s Republican Primary opponent who Fine easily defeated. However, he took the entire time of the campaign to launch endless assaults, defamation, slander, and libelous statements against Burns.
Why? Because it is effective. Fine’s tactics have proven to be intimidating to other elected officials who bend to his will out of fear of the same treatment. There is no low he won’t go to to ensure his will is done; whether abusing his authority and position with the State, or simply breaking the law or lying to his constituents and peers. His behavior breeds more politicians like him to follow suit, i.e. Bryan Lober.
One thing that doesn’t go unnoticed by some however, is Fine’s selective outrage.
There is another CURRENT Palm Bay City Councilman who Fine knows has admitted to taking illegal campaign donations, and drugs as a result of the aforementioned FBI investigation which implicated Greg Lynk and others.
Not once, despite filed charges, and admitting of wrongdoing of numerous former and current Palm Bay officials has Fine named anyone except for Deputy Mayor Johnson, and Mayor William Capote. It is clear from every organization and investigation possible that Johnson is not guilty of anything, nor was even elected during any of the past scandals in Palm Bay. Yet Fine still decided to call Johnson corrupt and tie him to “the parkway to nowhere” which occurred while Johnson was still in high school.
The Deputy Mayor and Mayor of Palm Bay have 2 things in common. They are both democrats, and they are both black men. Those charged with current crimes, admitted to corruption and crimes, and removed from office all have 3 things in common. They are all white, all men, and all absent from Fine’s mouth.
In this polarizing time in our Country where racial divides are more evident in light of the recent events, instead of bringing the community together, Fine has used his platform to divide. Often expressing anger with any events involving the black community.
On Juneteenth, he criticized the Melbourne City Council for “allowing” a peaceful protest march by the community promoting equal treatment, even going as far to call it a march against America.
And most recently, criticized the funeral of the late Congressman and Civil Rights Activists John Lewis, calling his funeral a dark day in American history for the government allowing the “assembly” to happen during the pandemic.
Yet Fine praises events held by the President with attendees in the thousands and attends them himself in person.
Fine is selective indeed in his criticisms and who he fights. The question is why.
That’s for the voters to decide. Come November 3rd, will the continue to support Fine’s bullying and prejudicial tactics and behavior, or will they decide it’s time to lift the community up instead of endless fighting and hyperbole to life one person up.