December 2, 2021

Florida Investigates GOP Lawmaker Randy Advantageous for Breaking Cyberintimidation Regulation He Helped Make

10 min read

When offended protesters confirmed up on the Florida residence of a pro-mask faculty board member to accuse her of mass baby abuse, one yelled out, “Randy Advantageous says good day!”

When two males confronted a disabled Military veteran at a park, they allegedly invoked Randy Advantageous’s title earlier than beating him unconscious.

These folks had been referring to Florida state Consultant Randy Advantageous, a Republican who has turned his Fb web page right into a ragefest the place he posts his enemies’ private particulars and offers his followers with a roadmap to channel their hate.

However he was additionally a cosponsor of the state’s new anti-cyberbullying law, and the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement is now investigating him for violating the very regulation he helped cross.

The Day by day Beast reviewed communications exhibiting that the native district’s prosecutor, State Lawyer Phil Archer, initially acquired two instances and referred each to the state’s police company. Particular brokers in FDLE’s public integrity unit at the moment are investigating.

“It’s sick and twisted. The irony of considering he’s above the regulation—not to mention one he brags about cosponsoring—is madness. It’s not the truth that he shared my telephone quantity. That’s not the unlawful half. It’s that you just share my title, telephone quantity and incite folks to harass me and threaten me,” the Brevard County Faculty Board member, Jennifer Jenkins, instructed The Day by day Beast.

“He acts like Trump. He is aware of it’s profitable for the extremists right here in Brevard. That’s simply his playbook,” she added.

Advantageous declined to reply The Day by day Beast’s questions on the document Thursday. As a substitute, he despatched a press release warning in opposition to giving voice to the assaulted veteran by repeating a few of the identical defamatory claims in regards to the man’s prison document that he’s usually made on Fb.

“If you wish to print the claims,” Advantageous stated, itemizing a litany of unproven and slanderous allegations, “…be my visitor.”

The 18th Judicial Circuit State Lawyer’s Workplace declined to “affirm or deny the existence of any ongoing prison investigation,” and FDLE didn’t reply to requests for remark.

It’s unclear how intently Advantageous was concerned in crafting Florida’s “Combating Public Dysfunction” invoice, a knee-jerk response by conservatives within the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. However he was one in all 26 cosponsors of the laws, which acquired nationwide media consideration as a result of, amongst different issues, it allows pissed-off drivers to run over protesters.

The regulation created a “cyberintimidation” provision that makes it unlawful to “electronically publish” somebody’s “private identification data”—even one thing so simple as their title or telephone quantity—if the intention is to incite violence, threaten, or harass them.

Seven locals instructed The Day by day Beast that Advantageous doesn’t simply match the invoice. The regulation describes what he’s been doing for months.

Jenkins is a speech pathologist who labored at a Brevard County public elementary faculty and is married to a trainer as effectively. She was elected to the Brevard County faculty board final yr and has since discovered herself within the uncomfortable place of advocating for requiring masks in a state the place the governor is in a full-blown war against mask mandates in schools.

In her grievance to State Lawyer Phil Archer, she particulars how Advantageous took to his marketing campaign’s Fb web page and posted her private cellphone quantity on July 29, directing pissed off anti-maskers to flood Jenkin’s telephone line instantly.

“COVID is neither extremely transmissible at school AND has nominal impact on youngsters. If you wish to get up on your rights, name Jenkins RIGHT NOW and let her know precisely how you’re feeling,” learn his submit, which has since been deleted.

Her grievance to investigators claims she acquired livid textual content messages from 70 completely different telephone numbers, together with one calling her a “psychotic nazi.” One of many males who attended the subsequent day’s heated faculty board assembly later drove previous her residence slowly a number of occasions whereas staring her down.

Advantageous’s rhetoric has solely grown extra caustic in current weeks, posting offended memes together with her face or title, repeatedly saying that “there’s a special place in hell” for Jenkins, and labeling her pro-mask stance “literally government-sanctioned child abuse.”

Issues acquired particularly heated on Sept. 1, when anti-mask protesters rallied exterior Jenkins’ residence. A minimum of one waved the well-known “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag, an emblem that’s been extensively adopted by the gun-toting right-wing fringe. A Satellite tv for pc Seashore police detective was referred to as to research after receiving a report that one of many protesters, Janice Crisp, coughed in Jenkins’ face as a sort of pandemic-era organic assault. A video seems to point out Crisp yelling, “Randy Advantageous says good day!”

Two days later, Advantageous posted on Fb: “I had nothing to do with it, fwiw. However once you use your property as your place of job and submit the handle on the Web, undecided you have to be shocked when sad ‘prospects’ present up.”

Crisp, a loyal Advantageous supporter, got herself arrested for attempting to disrupt the varsity board’s determination to increase its masks mandate later that month. (She had beforehand filmed herself heading to the violent Jan. 6 riot together with her brother, however has not confronted prison federal fees as others within the mob have been.)

Jenkins lastly took the step on Nov. 3 of in search of an emergency restraining order in opposition to the politician citing “stalking/cyberstalking,” after an nameless caller despatched a Florida Division of Youngsters and Households investigator to her residence to deal with a faux allegation of kid abuse. Jenkins instructed The Day by day Beast she suspects it was Advantageous or one in all his associates. A courtroom listening to is ready for Tuesday.

“He simply thinks he’s above the regulation. He’s a bully,” Jenkins instructed The Day by day Beast. “He thinks he’s going to intimidate me and harass me into resigning, and it’s by no means going to occur. He’s now going after those that I’m near, to get me to resign.”

Jenkins is speaking about her pal, Robert Burns, an Military veteran who served as a medic in Iraq. Burns has made a reputation for himself because the perpetual thorn in Advantageous’s facet, working a website that always hounds the politician for his insurance policies and serving because the marketing campaign supervisor to the Republican that unsuccessfully tried to oust Advantageous within the major final yr.

Advantageous’s social media is plagued by claims that Burns is a “serial rapist,” “baby abuser,” and “spouse beater,” together with pictures of Burns’ arrest document. The feud has gone on for years, with the politician accusing the veteran of being antisemitic and providing to point out Advantageous’s mom a video of her son with prostitutes that doesn’t exist. However the inflammatory on-line rhetoric there has additionally escalated.

On the identical day Jenkins filed her stalking case in opposition to Advantageous, the state representative posted a paparazzi-style picture of Jenkins and Burns exterior the veteran’s residence, exhibiting a license plate and home quantity. Advantageous credited “citizen journalists” and linked to a weblog submit on an anonymously authored weblog.

However a more in-depth look hints that Advantageous is concerned. One article includes a screenshot of Burns’ social media exercise, taken from Advantageous’s personal private Fb account. As most individuals know, your Fb profile image follows you wherever you go on the positioning, so for those who took a Fb screenshot whereas in your account, the submit will present that close to the share button.

Minutes after Advantageous made that submit, Burns was allegedly confronted by two males whereas he walked on a nature path at a small nature protect referred to as Turkey Creek Sanctuary. In accordance with Burns, the interplay went like this:

“Are you Robert Burns?” one man requested.

“Sure,” he stated.

“Are you Randy Advantageous’s Robert Burns?” he adopted.

“Yeah, sadly,” he replied.

“Oh OK, so that you wish to rape and abuse ladies and youngsters?”

A struggle ensued, and whereas Burns stated he struggled with one man, one other swung a heavy object and slammed it in opposition to the again of his head. Burns, who suffered a number of traumatic mind accidents whereas in fight in Iraq, wakened on the bottom dazed minutes later. He spent the night within the hospital, his ribs bruised from what he can solely guess was violent kicking whereas he was down. An individual who witnessed the start of the assault confirmed a few of these particulars to The Day by day Beast. Palm Bay police wouldn’t present particulars of the assault to keep away from harming the investigation.

He’s merciless and vindictive.

Lawyer Andy Lannon

Burns is now involved with a Palm Bay police detective investigating that assault. He has additionally filed a grievance to the native prosecutor and is in contact with a particular agent at FDLE.

“He’s making this the brand new regular. He’s making folks assume that is OK, that that is how politics works. He’s grooming the Brevard Younger Republicans, aspiring politicians about how you can marketing campaign,” Burns stated. “He’s additionally committing the infractions, as a result of he thinks he’s immune. He thinks he’s untouchable as a result of he’s doing press conferences with the governor and with regulation enforcement.”

Their actions have impressed others who really feel like they’ve been bullied by Advantageous to report him as effectively.

In October, legal professional Andy Lannon filed a grievance to FDLE, in line with an e mail reviewed by The Day by day Beast. It’s not about left-right politics, stated the legal professional, who describes himself as a religious Roman Catholic and lifelong Republican. Advantageous focused Lannon when he give up his Palm Seashore metropolis legal professional job and per week later checked himself right into a psychological well being facility for a couple of days.

Advantageous, in a since-deleted Facebook post nonetheless available on Google, publicly referred to as for him to be faraway from a committee that nominates judges and referred to as him “unfit.” Lannon desires state inspectors to research what he thought-about Advantageous’s unlawful try to tarnish his fame to destroy his credibility as a witness, provided that Lannon was set to testify in opposition to Advantageous’s affiliate, who final month pleaded guilty for his position in a corruption scandal.

“He’s merciless and vindictive,” Lannon instructed The Day by day Beast.

Lannon, who has since gone into non-public apply, stated three purchasers dropped him or refused to pay authorized payments due to Advantageous’s submit. He added that the politician’s wrath was the first motivator for his determination to go away the world and transfer his household to Orlando in 2019.

“His assaults made it exhausting to make a residing for 3 years. It was actually exhausting on my household. They had been devastated. Justice must be served,” he stated.

For others, the assaults predate the cyberintimidation regulation by years. Palm Bay Councilman Kenny Johnson was 27 and was simply three months into his first time period when Advantageous posted his private cellphone on Fb, urging residents to “name [him] at this time and demand he cease the corruption!” Johnson insists that his city-owned cell quantity was on the municipal web site, so Advantageous needed to exit of his approach to goal him this manner. Johnson, a private coach at his personal gymnasium, stored choosing up requires per week in case they had been potential purchasers however ultimately needed to get a brand new line.

His intentions had been to intimidate me a method or one other, for me to do no matter he says. To maintain me in my place.

Palm Bay Councilman Kenny Johnson

“His intentions had been to intimidate me a method or one other, for me to do no matter he says. To maintain me in my place,” Johnson instructed The Day by day Beast. “Throughout my marketing campaign, I noticed mudslinging, however to not this stage. I anticipate it from residents, however not elected officers. We’re supposed to carry ourselves to a better commonplace.”

In the meantime, one in all Advantageous’s personal tales of harassment seems to be unsure. Earlier this yr, when confronted with criticism that his on-line habits posed a hazard to Jenkins and Burns, Advantageous got here ahead along with his personal story about feeling threatened. On Sept. 3, Advantageous publicly claimed that his workplace acquired a threatening name from “a person claiming he was ‘representing Jennifer Jenkins.’”

“I might wish to thank the Police Departments of the Metropolis of Melbourne, Metropolis of Palm Bay, the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement, and the Home Sergeant at Arms for instantly responding to a reputable risk made in opposition to me yesterday,” he wrote.

Nonetheless, The Day by day Beast checked with all 4 regulation enforcement companies to see if such a risk was reported. The Florida Home Speaker’s workplace stated the Sergeant at Arms “didn’t obtain a name” that matches that description. The Melbourne Police Division reported that it “by no means acquired a name” from Advantageous’s district workplace, which is exterior its jurisdiction anyway. And whereas FDLE did notify the Palm Bay Police Division in regards to the incident, the matter didn’t rise to the extent of even meriting a report.

“It was decided {that a} topic made a remark to one in all Mr. Advantageous’s staffers. No risk was made to Mr. Advantageous,” a Palm Bay public data officer instructed The Day by day Beast.

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