Kimberle Weeks Secret Recordings Tapped Into Her Personal Life, Including a Funeral Director
FlaglerLive | May 22, 2015
Former Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks, who is under a 12-count felony indictment, routinely recorded local and state officials in their presence or on her phone, without their consent. She recorded a reporter speaking privately with a judge. She recorded the funeral director who was making arrangements for her late father-in-law’s funeral. She recorded her conversation with a woman about whose ex-husband she was gathering information.
Weeks, who packed a .380-caliber gun in her purse at work, at the Government Services Building, routinely edited audio files, downloaded them to her computer and transcribed files either at work or elsewhere, and since 2011 forbade the employee she’d made responsible for official canvassing board minutes to do that work: Weeks did it herself.
That’s a general picture from an examination of 51 documents relating to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation of Weeks, started last October and ended earlier this month, just before a grand jury indicted her on the 12 counts of allegedly illegally recording people without their knowledge and disclosing such conversations. Details of the investigation were first reported today by the News-Journal’s Tony Holt.
The source of Weeks’s trouble, in this case, was Weeks herself, when she played in a canvassing board meeting the garbled audio conversation she had taped of Commissioner Charlie Ericksen and County Attorney Al Hadeed, without their knowledge. Weeks was claiming Hadeed had knowledge of lawbreaking. But county officials charged that the recording was illegal. That triggered the FDLE investigation.
The 51 documents are essentially individual summaries of the various steps of the investigation—the many people interviewed, the forensic analysis of computers seized from Weeks’s office, the assertions by numerous officials or others that they had no knowledge of being secretly recorded by Weeks. The documents reveal little new of substance. But they fill in details about Weeks’s methods, revealing a person obsessed with keeping tabs on people in all walks of life, as if on constant guard for missteps or evidence she could use against others. The gravest missteps appear to have been her own.
But the investigation also unwittingly dispels a common misconception in government circles: that Weeks had been manipulated by others, or was doing others’ bidding, as she floundered through her last months as supervisor. In fact, the investigation points to a pattern that went beyond her duties as supervisor and affected her personal life. It was amplified in her official duties, and eventually exposed, but the methods and motives seem to have been all her own. If the investigation has shed much more light on her methods, her motives remain a mystery in comparison.
Weeks went as far as allegedly illegally recording a phone conversation with Palatka funeral director who was handling the arrangements for William W. Weeks, Kimberle Weeks’s father in law, who died in late December. The director, Steve Overturf, whose brother, Charles Overturf, is the Putnam County supervisor of elections, said he had not given his consent to be recorded, but declined to participate in the investigation. Overturf stated that he did not want to cause political problems for his brother, and that he did not want to lose future business from the Weeks family.”
Weeks also recorded people involved in her personal life, such as Shannon Brown, whose daughter was involved with Brown’s ex-husband. Brown was concerned that Weeks was “gathering information about the ex-husband,” the investigation states. Weeks recorded a conversation she had with Brown in Weeks’s front yard in May 2014—and deleted various portions of the conversation, suggesting that Weeks was adept at editing out what she didn’t want (a skill she put to use in her version of canvassing board minutes). She also recorded a conversation with a Holly Hill police officer, without his consent.
The FDLE investigation started after Julie Murphy—then a News-Journal reporter, now a spokeswoman for county government—inquired of the state attorney’s office about the recordings Weeks was making. A Palm Coast Observer story citing county officials saying Weeks had taped them without permission also fueled the investigation.
Days later, in late September, two FDLE inspectors met with Weeks, who produced the iPhone she used to make her recordings—to record the FDLE agents. She had set that condition for her willingness to be interviewed: that she’d make her own recording of the proceedings. In that case, however, she did so with the FDLE agents’ full awareness.
But even then, in the face of state law enforcement agents, Weeks displayed the sort of prickliness-or imperiousness—that has characterized much of her tenure as supervisor of elections, when questioned: she refused to provide the agents with basic, official documents generated in the purview of her official duties, including canvassing board minutes, meeting notices, the excerpted audio copy she had provided to the press of the audio conversation in contention, and the sign-in sheet. Only after one of the inspectors repeated his request as one for public record did Weeks agree to turn over some of them—and only some of them: the minutes, the sign-in sheet and a copy of the newspaper notice. As for the audio recordings, she refused, saying she had to speak with her attorney. The interview concluded on that note. (Weeks on Oct. 8 provided an audio recording and a transcript of the Hadeed-Ericksen conversation she’d sent the media.)
FDLE got one of the recordings from WNZF after interviews with WNZF News Director Ron Charles and Station Manager David Ayres, and subsequently got more documents and audio files from the News-Journal. FDLE’s interview with Al Hadeed, the county attorney, who characterized his conversation with Ericksen as not part of the canvassing board’s meeting, and therefore private.
The documents detail the Oct. 3 search of the supervisor’s office, Weeks’s computer server and cellphone, which was retained for evaluation as evidence. “Weeks’ desktop computer, Weeks’ laptop computer, a small analog recorder, and Weeks’ thumb drive were all also seized,” the investigation reveals. Weeks provided user name and passwords for office computers and her office cell phone.
“During the execution of the search warrant,” the investigation states, “Weeks called her husband and asked him to bring her personal cellphone and computer tablets to the SOE office. Weeks opened the devices and FDLE forensics personnel compared the data contained on the devices with that found by FDLE on the SOE server. The information in Weeks’ personal phone and laptop appeared identical to the data imaged by FDLE. FDLE did not take possession of her personal cell phone and computer tablets.”
Investigators found eight audio files of canvassing board meetings. As the investigation was proceeding, the FDLE noticed that the canvassing board meeting of August 25 was only two hours and 25 minutes long, though the meeting had officially lasted four hours. FDLE requested the full recording. Weeks claimed in an affidavit that she had turned the recording on and off.
The FDLE interviewed numerous people involved in the matter—County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, the chairperson of the canvassing board, Ericksen, Dennis McDonald, who told agents that Weeks had heard no objections when she asked all in attendance at the Aug. 25 meeting whether they objected to being recorded. Others interviewed or re-interviewed included Hadeed, Murphy, Ayres, Hanns—whose voice is heard on one of the secret recordings saying “she’s not taping, anyway”—Palm Coast City Clerk Virginia Smith, and others. Several documents recap various canvassing board discussions and issues that have been widely reported.
The investigation found that, based on forensic data gathered from Weeks’s phone, she had taped an “extended conversation” between Moore-Stens and FlaglerLive Editor Pierre Tristam after the adjournment of the canvassing board meeting on Aug. 20. “Stens said that she was recorded without her knowledge and without her consent,” the investigator states. Tristam was not interviewed by FDLE. He had not given his consent to the recording.
She recorded a phone conversation with the secretary of state, Ken Detzner, and others with her phone, and without their permission, on April 3, 2014. “In that recording, Weeks asked Detzner for permission to record the telephone call. Detzner objected to Weeks recording the call and told Weeks she could not record the call,” the investigation states. “Also identified on the recording were attorneys John A. ‘Drew’ Atkinson, Gary J. Holland, and Ronald A. Labasky.” The investigation also notes: “Encoded data indicated the recording was made on April 4, 2014, and the contents of the recording indicated Weeks disseminated the recording of the April 3, 2014 telephone call with Detzner. Weeks voice was recorded saying she did not know if making the recording was legal.”
None of the people included in the recording had given their consent to be recorded, they told FDLE investigators. Others allegedly secretly recorded on Weeks’s cell phone include Smith, the Palm Coast city clerk, Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond, and Ronald Labasky, the attorney for the Florida State Association of Supervisors, whose counsel Weeks had at one point sought.
Linda Constantine, referred to as a Deputy Supervisor of Elections in the documents (by then Weeks had resigned and the governor had appointed Kaiti Lenhart supervisor), said she learned of all the incidents after the fact. “Constantine said she could not provide any information concerning the editing of recordings or memory storage devices located off-site from the SOE office,” the investigation states.
Lenhart explained to investigators that Weeks would download the recordings and transferred them to discs onto the office computer. “Lenhart knew of no editing programs on the SOE computer system and opined that Weeks would have done the editing on the cell phone,” the investigation states. There were no editing programs on Weeks’s computer.
Lenhart also told investigators that while Constantine had developed a template for transcribing minutes at Weeks’s direction in 2011, “Weeks was not satisfied with Constantine’s work. Weeks then undertook the task to transcribe the minutes by herself, and Weeks continued to produce the minutes without any known assistance ever since 2011. Constantine did not transcribe the minutes after 2011.” Lenhart told investigators that Weeks retained the template developed by Constantine on Weeks’ desk top in her office and said “Weeks would work on the minutes while in the office and on electronic devices elsewhere.”
Weeks had run her supervisor of elections’ server through a GoDaddy.com account, separate from county servers.