SANTA ROSA INSIDER: Why Are Elected Officials Given “Get Out of Jail, Free” Cards?

Posted on April 8, 2024 by EDITORIAL BOARD

“Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo, no jail time for you!”

Fentanyl traffickers and elected officials seem to have “Get Out of Jail, Free” cards issued courtesy of the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. Can any of us regular citizens get one, or do only drug dealers and politicians get that priviledge? 

On March 27, Jeremy Dolan escaped a lengthy sentence after being busted with more than 71 grams of Fentanyl. In fact, despite facing two 30-year sentences, Dolan made a plea deal that could get him out of prison around June 2026. So don’t bother telling me Florida is tough on Fentanyl because that proves we are not.

To prove my other assertion, that elected officials seem to be escaping justice in the First Judicial Circuit, let’s rewind to last fall.

The State Attorney’s Office didn’t compel Milton Councilman Mike Cusack to produce multiple text messages. Cusack’s lack of compliance with Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law was noted in last week’s Florida Ethics Commission investigation report, which resulted in a $1,500 fine and Cusack admitting he violated Florida law related to the hiring of a former city manager.

The State Attorney’s Office also seems to be turning its head to a battery complaint filed against Santa Rosa County District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith, who was previously adjudicated guilty of battery and given six months’ probation in that case.

Nevermind that Florida State Statute 784.03 states the offense of battery occurs when a person “actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other” and the victim, Michael Stevens, a disabled man in a protected class, called law enforcement to request charges be pressed.  That statute also goes on to state that a person who has one prior conviction for (battery), like Smith, then commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree.

During today’s county commission meeting, Smith discussed the previous battery incident. “Yes I smacked a feller for driving through my neighborhood real fast – almost hit my stepdaughters, and I didn’t handle that correctly. Yes I was charged and I was found guilty of that when I thought I should be getting a medal,” Smith said. 

Then Smith discussed the current battery allegation, which is under “active criminal investigation,” per Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office, which sent the case to the State Attorney’s Office for review.

“Even the State Attorney’s Office has said as much…it was obvious that the Commissioner was trying to diffuse the situation,” Smith stated.

Wow! It must be nice to get insider information about a so-called active investigation which is supposedly upon you. Politicians sure seem to have it made! 

Smith, who professed to be a Christian, then went on to say this, which I find even more disturbing: 

“I believe I was called on this board to call out evil and stupid things, and one of things that I saw last Tuesday night at my town hall was one of the most evilest and non-productive things I’ve ever witnessed,” Smith said, stating he saw the publisher of South Santa Rosa News sitting in the front seats. “Then I saw Roger Belanger and Michael Stevens walk in, basically arm in arm.”

White replied to Smith’s diatribe in which he claimed it was a “set up.” She asked who he is to judge others and expressed her belief that if you had to sum up the Bible in three words they would be would be…love don’t judge.