Former County Council candidate Justin Kennedy: Jon Kaney's Waverly subpoena 'in the trash'

Justin Kennedy of Edgewater, for county council candidate ignores Waverly subpoena / Headline Surfer®Waverly Media park benches at center of county council investigation / Headline Surfer®Jnathan Kaney, Jr, special investigator for County Council on Waverly Media / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® photos / Justin Kennedy, 2012 County Council candidate shown at far left, who accepted in-kind advertising from Waverly Media on its popular bus benches, refused to honor a subpoena issued by private attorney Jon Kaney (in the inset) and was a no-show for a deposition Wednesday. Kaney was hired by the County Council to look into Waverly, a move seen by some as politics at its worst.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Volusia County Council special investigator Jonathan Kaney, Jr's subpoena power is being put to the test by a defiant former County Council candidate who said it's not worth the paper it's written on.

"It came in the mail and it may as well have gone in the trash," 2012 district 3 County Council candidate and former Edgewater City Councilman Justin Kennedy told Headline Surfer® this morning, adding he was a no-show for his scheduled deposition Wednesday with Kaney.

"It came in the mail and it may as well have gone in the trash," 2012 district 3 County Council candidate and former Edgewater City Councilman Justin Kennedy told Headline Surfer® this morning, adding he was a no-show for his scheduled deposition Wednesday with Kaney.

"Let Jon Kaney take me to court. If a judge says I have to answer his questions, then I'll deal with it then. I already answered questions of a State Attorney investigator almost a year ago. There's nothing new here. It's just a political witch hunt."

Kennedy, a Democrat, who ran in the non-partisan County Council race, finished a close third in the primary, with former School Board member Deb Denys, a Republican, defeating the primary winner, Democrat Jim Hathaway in the general election.

Denys is among four County Council members who gave Kaney the green light to investigate Waverly Media's contract with the county and to determine the extent of in-kind advertising on its bus benches for County Council candidates in the 2012 elections.

Kennedy said it's obvious Denys, who is seeking re-election in this year's elections, is threatened by his potential candidacy for the seat. "It's all politics and I just don't have time to play these games," said Kennedy, 43, married with five small children, and a small business owner who operates a lawn care service.

Kennedy added, "The only people who really take the current County Council seriously these days is the News-Journal."

And speaking of Kaney and his appearance before the County Council where he got the green light to pursue the Waverly investigation, Kennedy said it's nothing personal against Kaney, who is "just doing his job, but Kaney said that "whenever there is a clown in the room, you're likely to find a circus."

In this case, Kennedy said there are four such clowns -- naming them as Denys and her County Council colleagues Pat Northey of Deltona, Pat Patterson of DeLand and Doug Daniels of Ormond Beach. These four were the driving force behind the Waverly investigation.

Like Kennedy, at-large County Council member Joyce Cusack of DeLand, also used the words description, "witch hunt" to describe the investigation since Northey, a fellow Democrat who is term-limited from her district 5 seat is challenging her for her seat in 2014.

"She wants to use Waverly to try and make me look bad, but it's not going top work," Cusack said. Joshua Wagner, also a Democrat, and the Daytona representative on the County Council "reluctantly" supported Kaney's investigation because he's caught in a catch-22: He believes politics is the motivating factor, but it's the only way to silence the critics.

County Chair Jason Davis has consistently opposed the Waverly investigation as duplicative of the ongoing investigation by the State Attorney's Office.

"This is a complete waste of the taxpayers' money," Davis said, adding, "I don't want any part of it. It's a charade. It's a way for the attorney and his associate to make money."

Davis was referring to Kaney's co-counsel Noah McKinnon. The two are each being paid $290 per hour. 

Kaney was recommended to the County Council by Daniels, who was a former law partner with Kaney. It was Daniels who was the most vocal in favor of pushing for the investigation and giving Kaney subpoena powrrs, telling hid colleagues, "We need to lance the boil and move on."

That this isn't a conflict of interest is hard top prove because there would need to be evidence that Daniels was benefitting financially, Davis said.

County Attorney Dan Eckert has gone on a record as saying he doesn't believe what Kaney is doing is legal, but he's been muzzled by a 4-3 vote led by Daniels, Denys, Northey and Patterson because he gave advice to County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall before coming to the County Council first after she discovered what appeared to be in-kind contributions from Waverly that may have exceeded campaign limits.

Kaney was hired Nov. 21 and instructed to report back in 90 days. No cost containmenrt was put on the investigation and he did not ofgfer a ballpark figure on what he believed his investigation would cost. 

Neither Daniels, Danys, Northey nor Patterson returned Headline Surfer® calls and messages for comment.

Kaney declined comment when contacted earlier in the day.

Editor's Note: An earlier version quoted Justin Kennedy as saying he threw Jon Kaney's subpoena in the trash, when it really should have said rhetorically that he "may as well have thrown it in the trash" because he didn't believe Kaney had legal standing under Council Charter 309 to force him to give a statement when he's already cooprated with the earlier State Attorney's Office investigation. Also, Kaney was initially described by Kennedy as a clown, but Kennedy later sclarified that aid he was referring only to the four elected officials who pushed for the Kaney hiring and not Kaney himself. The story has been updated to reflect these changes. 

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Jnathan Kaney, Jr, special investigator for County Council on Waverly Media / Headline Surfer®Jon Kaney granted subpoena powers in Waverly probe; tells News-Journal: 'I don’t have to ask quite so nicely now'
Posted Fri, 2014-01-10 00:14
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.