For Joe Mullins, the current chairman of the Flagler County Commission, the speeding, the traffic stops, the attempts to abuse his power and curry favor and the cut-and-paste pleas to judges to go easy on him all keep coming, and at times worse.
In a June incident on I-4, troopers say he initially ignored them as he sped past at over 90 miles per hour. He had to be pulled over by two patrol cars with sirens blaring. He then berated the troopers to the point of being threatened with jail if he stepped out of his car or didn’t resume his drive after he was handed a ticket.
After that, he cut and pasted a plea to a Seminole County judge from a nearly identical letter he’d just written a Flagler County judge–forgetting so much as to replace “I-95” with “I-4.” He begged for leniency to avoid points on his license. He said he’d never do it again. And he claiming that he was conducting a passing maneuver nowhere visible on the troopers’ video. (See the letter he wrote Seminole County here, and the letter he wrote the Flagler judge here.)
One of the videos clearly shows Mullins’s vehicle without any other near it as it speeds by the location of the trooper with a laser gun.
For Mullins, who is running for re-election, and who frequently claims to respect law enforcement, ethics and the law, it is only the latest in a pattern of serial infractions in just four counties–Seminole, Duval, Flagler and St. Johns–that have been documented since before his election four years ago, though the Seminole case stands out particularly: it was the second time in a matter of months that he’d been pulled over in Seminole, and one of two times he’d be pulled over in 17 days between Seminole and Flagler. It drew the same, clearly empty promise to “commit in the future to pay more attention to my speed” he peddles in similar circumstances elsewhere.
It provoked disbelief from two Florida Highway Patrol troopers at his brazen indifference to their presence. And it led to their threat to arrest him if he persisted with arguing after the ticket had been issued and the troopers’ business done, making his idling on an Interstate highway illegal.
This week, after Mullins sent one of his cut-and-paste letters, a Flagler County judge withheld adjudication on Monday, on a ticket from June 19, but ordered him to take a four-hour driving class. (See: “Again Ticketed for Speeding, Flagler Commission Chairman Joe Mullins Again Begs for Favor.”)
This same week he elected to take a four-hour driving class to avoid points on his license from the Seminole County ticket on June 2. Under Florida law, a driver may not elect to do so more than once in a 12-month period, or five times in the driver’s lifetime. But a court may order the driver to take the class a limitless number of times. In essence, by getting the Flagler County judge to order him to take the class, Mullins could end up filing proof of taking the same class in both counties, and avoid any consequences other than the fines.
The Seminole documents and several videos from the traffic stop from different angles, obtained by FlaglerLive, illustrate the degree to which Mullins’s defiance of law or law enforcement will go even when confronted. It also illustrates how rapidly he flashes his title as commissioner in law enforcement’s face in an apparent attempt to abuse his authority or curry favor. (See: “Joe Mullins Wanted Sheriff to Fix Speeding Ticket in 2017; He Invoked Staly’s Name in Traffic Stop.”)
The June 2 stop in Seminole took place on I-4’s express lanes at mile marker 91, west of State Road 436, at 7:47 p.m.
After the trooper told him he was clocked at 91 on the trooper’s laser, Mullins immediately handed something other than his license. “What’s this?” the trooper asked. Mullins is then heard saying he chairs the county commission. “Yes, sir,” the trooper continues, “do you have your registration and insurance, please?”
The two troopers who initiated the stop then return to one of the troopers’ vehicle and process Mullins’s information, speaking to each other as they did so and explaining how he’d initially ignored them.
“He looked like he wasn’t stopping that’s why I came after you,” one of the troopers tells the other.
“He said he was a county commissioner,” the other trooper says.
“Yeah, well, he’s getting a ticket.”
“He wasn’t stopping when he saw me.”
“I know, that’s why I [inaudible] him for you. I figured he might be one of those people that stops then floors it to take off.” A pause. “What county?”
“Flagler, I think it was.”
“Whatever, it doesn’t matter.”
“The thing was, there’s two vehicles, he didn’t even stop,” the other trooper says.
“No, he didn’t even slow down. Again, that’s why I came after you as well. Anyway, you hear his exhaust ticking? And you could hear the, you could hear his exhaust ticking, his car was, like, really hot from going really fast.”
“Yeah, that was the surprise of my life,” the other trooper says.
“91.7,” the trooper says of Mullins’s speed.
After completing the paperwork, the two troopers then go back to speak with Mullins, standing on the passenger side. They explain the ticket to him, but then Mullins berates them for the way he was pulled over, claiming it was not safe. One of the troopers asks him if he thought going at the speed he was going was safe.
By then the troopers’ business was done. They asked him repeatedly, “are you ready to leave?” But Mullins kept speaking. Much of what he says is inaudible in the recordings because of the passing traffic, other than Mullins’s truculent tone. Mullins is heard saying, “I’m not going to leave until–” what he was asking for is inaudible, but it caused a trooper to warn him that he would then be committing another violation. Mullins continues to demand something, possibly to see the troopers’ video of the stop.
“If you get out of this car you’re going to jail,” the trooper clearly and firmly tells him. “Stay in your car. Stay calm.” The trooper also cautioned him: him: “You’re aware this is being audio and video recorded?”
“The way you drove was also video” recorded, Mullins replies.
“Absolutely,” the trooper says.
Mullins then again invokes his status as an elected official, saying “I’m over the state, I’m telling you,” causing the trooper, who is clearly not familiar with Mullins’s habitual fabulism to wonder: “You’re over the state?”
Mullins then says: “You can record that all you want, that was very dangerous, what you did.” Based on video footage, it was not. Mullins was referring to the way the second trooper briefly pulled up next to him as Mullins was stopping in the right shoulder, then quickly backed out to place the car behind the first trooper’s, which was immediately behind Mullins’s. There was no visible oncoming traffic when the trooper did the split-second maneuver.
“All right, you’re ready to leave?”
Mullins finally left.