Flagler County Commissioner Joe Mullins has made headlines across the globe following the publicization of several of his prior traffic stops for speeding on local highways. In the stops, Mullins is shown on video saying things to Florida Highway Patrol troopers like ‘I run the county’, ‘I’m above the state’, and to one officer that his career may be in jeopardy. All of it comes in the homestretch of Mullins’ re-election campaign.
As of Sunday afternoon, Mullins’ traffic stop incidents have been covered by the Daytona News-Journal, People, NBC News, the Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, the New York Post, and several more. He was a few days prior the top story on a Reddit forum called ‘/r/FloridaMan‘, chronicling humorous misadventures of Floridians, usually relating to crime or the law.
Mullins released a statement to the Palm Coast Observer to address the increased scrutiny he’s received following the incidents:
“I received a speeding ticket, paid my fine and completed traffic school. I never asked for any favors. I regret how I spoke to the officer. I fully support and love law enforcement and look forward to winning my upcoming election and servicing Flagler County for four more years.”
Prior to this statement, Mullins was largely dismissive of the criticism, posting briefly to Facebook to characterize his critics as ‘far left liberal media, bloggers and unhinged obsessed Social media trolls’. The statement was likely aimed in chief to FlaglerLive, the outlet which first reported the conduct earlier this month.
The passage in Mullins’ statement which claims he didn’t ask for favors refers to moments in multiple clips in which Mullins provides his County Commission business card to FHP troopers. He informed them this way and verbally that he was a County Commissioner, but did not explicitly request from them any preferential treatment on that basis. He did dispute the stops soon thereafter in varying ways, and to one trooper hinted at his governmental authority coming into play (“I’m above the state”). Mullins wrote letters to two judges, one each from Seminole and Flagler counties, requesting leniency for the speeding violations.
The attention comes at a particularly inconvenient time for Mullins, who is running against fellow Republican Leann Pennington and NPA candidate Jane Gentile-Youd. The winner of Mullins and Pennington’s primary will go on to face Gentile-Youd in the general election. A primary poll put forth by a Flagler Republican group resulted in a 77.3% victory for Pennington (41 votes out of 53) against Mullins. As of now Mullins sits in the Chair position on the County Commission, and so a victory by either Pennington or Gentile-Youd would serve to significantly upset the balance of power on the Commission. Either one would be the first election win for a woman to the County Commission since Barbara Revels in 2008.