Kaney Waverly probe serves political interests of County Council members Denys, Northey, Patterson & Daniels

Duplication of investigations by State Attorney, FBI

Jon Kaney / Weverly attorney probe / Headline Surfer®County Council at-large member Joyce Cusack / Headline Surfer®Term-limited County Council member Pat Northey / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® / The appointment of Jon Kaney as investigator of Waverly bus bench probe for the County Council is something term-limited Council member Pat Northey is looking forward to in hopes of weakening at-large incumbent Joyce Cusack, whose seat she covets in the 20134 elections.

DAYTONA BEACH -- The ugliness of Volusia County politics continues to fester in the Frank T. Bruno chambers in DeLand with today's expected coronation of attorney Jonathan Kaney Jr. as the hired gun to investigate the Waverly bus bench advertising scandal, something already well under way with ongoing investigations by the State Attorney's Office and the FBI. 

County Chair Jason Davis sees the Kaney investigation being pushed by Council member Doug Daniels as nothing more than a duplication of investigations well under way by law enforcement and an attorney who not only lacks the cooperation by the two law enforcement agencies, but lacks subpoena powers. 

"Why are we, the County Council, want to spend more money and time on an investigation that is being done by two other agencies with policing authority?" Davis asked rhetorically in a Wednesday interview with Headline Surfer®. "Do we really need to possibly compromise those investigations?"

Davis said that although he's not an attorney, hr doesn't believe the County Council has legal authority to have Kaney investigate the Waverly bus bench finances. "The motion regarding the investigation, which did pass on a 5-2 vote, was in my opinion, not legal and violated our Charter, so I became one of the two dissenting votes," said Davis, who was joined in the minority vote by Daytona Council member Joshua Wagner, who is an attorney.

Wagner said he believes the council is overstepping its bounds, a view also shared by County Attorney Dan Eckert. But Eckert has been neutralized by Daniels, who is an attorney, who said the county attorney overstepped his bounds by going outside the chambers in giving legal advice to Supervisor of Elections Anne McFall, who subsequently reached out to the State Attorney's Office.

The FBI had already been investigating two of Waverly's principals, Ramara Garrett and Jim Sotolongo, both of whom have been indicted in unrelated federal charges related to real estate.

Davis, Wagner and at-large candidate Joyce Cusack are the only Council members to speak with Headline Surfer® on the Waverly issue. 

Why the county is involved in the first place is a convoluted question that has no clear cut answers.

"I don't really know to be honest with you," Davis said. "It just seems like an exercise in futility. He's not going to get subpoena powers ands the other investigative agencies are not going to cooperate with him while their investigations continue so what's the point?"

Cusack was right to the point in her feelings: "It seems like nothing more than a witch hunt."

Wagner said it was an example of "politics as usual," with those not involved in Waverly looking to make hay at the expense of their political opponents.

Wagner added "it's personal," without getting into the feud between he and Daniels. The latter has taken offense to Wagner bringing up funding fore the Ocean Center that benefits his wife, Angela Daniels, head of advertising for the Ocean Center, a perennial money loser despite increasing subsidies from the Halifax Area Advertising Authority.

Cusack, Wagner and Daniels on the council have received in-kind Waverly advertising but Daniels has argued his amounts -- several hundred -- were far less than others who received several thousand worth of in-kind contributions during the last two election cycles.

Political insiders and consultants from the Republican and Democratic parties have told Headline Surfer® on condition of anonymity that those whose names are not attached to Waverly are going after those whose names are, even though these candidates didn't do anything wrong and are not subject to criminal prosecution.

Some like Edgewater Democrat Justin Kennedy, who received in-kind contributions from Waverly, in the three-way race for the seat ultimately won by Denys last year, said he's done nothing wrong and cooperated fully with the State Attorney's Office.

Asked if he would cooperate with Kaney without a subpoena, Kennedy, a popular former Edgewater councilman who gave up the remainder of his seat to run for the higher office, said, "Absolutely not. Why would I? I've already cooperated with the state attorney's and this is nothing more than a big waste of time. We all know this is politics. What is Denys going to when it's over and she has to justify the expenses for Kaney and possible a second attorney he's pushing for?"

Justin Kennedy / Headline Surfer®Deb Denys / Headline Surfer®At left, Justin Kennedy a potential 2014 opponent for Councilwoman Deb Denys. She's a big supporter of a Waverly probe by the council since Kennedy was the recipient of in-kind advertising from the company in the 2012 race against her even though he's not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Asked if he would cooperate with Kaney without a subpoena, Justin Kennedy, a popular former Edgewater councilman who gave up the remainder of his seat to run for the higher office, said, "Absolutely not. Why would I? I've already cooperated with the state attorney's and this is nothing more than a big waste of time. We all know this is politics. What is Denys going to when it's over and she has to justify the expenses for Kaney and possible a second attorney he's pushing for?"

Kennedy said he hasn't decided yet one way or another whether he will challenge Denys. 

Besides Denys, term-limited Pat Northey is desperate to stay on the dais as 2013 gives way to 2014, her 20th year.

She announced earlier this year her intention to run against Cusack, an unprecedented move by either major party, even though the seats are non-partisan.

Northey has ignored repeated inquiries from Headline Surfer® regarding her campaign and the emergence of Mori Hosseini monies in her campaign coffers.

Margie Patchett, co-founder of Volusia Tax Reform / Headline Surfer®Joyce Cusack easily defeated Margie Patchett for at-large County Council seat in 2010 / Headline Suurfer®Headline Surfer® photo / Margie Patchett, shown at left, co-founder of Volusia Tax Reform and a registered Republican, was as formidable an opponent as anyone could have been in the 2010 elections against Democrat Joyce Cusack for the at-large seat on the Volusia County Council, but Cusack easily won as the final tally in the snapshot graphic shows.

A key Democratic source for Headline Surfer® said Northey has become "obsessed" over Waverly and trying to "make Cusack look bad."

"Northey knows she can't beat her otherwise because Cusack enjoys a great reputation with the voters in her tenure in the Statehouse and by how easily she won in 2009 against a tough opponent with strong name recognition."

Pat Patterson hasn't yet announced whether he will seek a second term out of DeLand, but so far nobody else in his district has made any announcements either.

For Davis, who is completing a rough first year in office, the Waverly fight could be the biggest battle for him today, knowing he's not likely to get a majority vote to stop it.

Without subpoena power, Davis said the only thing Kaney will have accomplished is fatteneing his own wallet.

"Nowhere in the charter does it say we have the authority to employ an outside investigator, or outside counsel," Davis reiterated. "Basically, it gives the County Council the authority to conduct a U.S. Senate-style hearing, that is all. The publicly announced opinion of our county attorney was in support of my findings, informing the council that we do not have the authority to enforce an investigation as passed, because it violates our charter and surpasses our authority as a council."

Davis as adamant that Eckert represents the entire council, not just the chair, regardless of the legal expertise of lawyers who serve on the council as in Daniels and Wagner.

"If other council members of the same profession, law, prefer to practice their trade during council meetings rather than seeking advice and counsel from our county attorney, they are only doing a disservice to their constituents by putting personal issues ahead of them," Davis said emphatically.

"If anyone feels a lack of trust, or confidence in State Attorney, Volusia County Sheriff, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the FBI, they need to question these officials and agencies who are all involved in the same investigation."

Davis made it clear he'll reiterate today the County Council is not an investigative agency with an added caveat: "I warn those involved to be careful what you ask for," he said, "for sometimes those best intentions backfire, and someone else can become the subject of further investigations."

County Chair Jason Davis / Headline Surfer®At left, Volusia County Chair Jason Davis has a stern warning for those pushing a Waverly probe on the County Council.

Davis made it clear he'll reiterate today the County Council is not an investigative agency with an added caveat: "I warn those involved to be careful what you ask for," he said, "for sometimes those best intentions backfire, and someone else can become the subject of further investigations."

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.