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Masked Man Who Taunted Lamb at Sheriff’s Forum Is Unmasked as Whisenant Supporter

| August 9, 2016

richard rubin

Richard Rubin as he appeared, left, masked and in camouflage, outside the sheriff’s candidate forum at Buddy Taylor Middle School Monday evening (in a Facebook image), and right, in a mugshot from his 2010 arrest on a battery charge in Flagler County.

Monday evening at Buddy Taylor Middle School the News-Journal hosted a forum featuring the nine candidates for Flagler County sheriff. It’s the most fiercely—at times angrily and ludicrously—contested local race of the election. A peripheral incident Monday shows why.


John Lamb, one of the nine candidates, appeared “rattled” during the forum, in the words of several observers, a characterization Lamb disagrees with. He says he was bothered by a lie, not rattled.

A man had been taunting Lamb outside for an hour before the forum. The man was masked with what appeared to be ca camouflage bandanna, wearing camouflage pants, riding a bicycle near the school on Belle Terre Parkway, and carrying a tall sign that, jutting from the rear of his seat read, in red, capital letters: “DID YOU KNOW? LAMB & HIS FAMILY DO NOT LIVE IN FLAGLER.”

The taunt has been shadowing Lamb for much of his campaign. He is at the tail end of his career at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He does not yet own a house in Flagler. But he’s right: the sign is a lie. His wife, a former detective at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, accepted a position teaching fifth grade at a Flagler County public school, in the heart of Palm Coast. The Lambs’ two youngest children start school there Wednesday morning. The family rents locally. They still have their house in Jacksonville, both because their son, who’s in college there, uses it and because they haven’t yet decided whether to rent it out or sell it.

The masked man with the sign, Lamb said in an interview this evening, was somebody’s attempt to get him “unnerved” and off his game, he said.

Lamb went up to the man before the forum and told him the sign was wrong. “When you come out with bald-faced lies, that’s what bothers me,” Lamb said, without denying the masked man’s First Amendment rights. “Everybody assumes that just because I’m renting here I’m not a resident here. There’s plenty of residents who rent.”

The man didn’t engage with Lamb, the candidate said. Nor did he take off his mask. “I can only assume it was one of the candidates,” Lamb said—that is, a candidate’s supporter.

It was.

Mark Whisenant. (© FlaglerLive)

Mark Whisenant. (© FlaglerLive)

The man is Richard Rubin, 56, who’s been involved in Mark Whisenant’s campaign, one of the nine candidates for sheriff, and frequently appears at his events. He’s hosted at least one fund-raiser for Whisenant at European Village, where he runs Coconut Island, the shop, with his wife Antoinette Rubin. (She’s donated to the Whisenant campaign in the form of a $450 in-kind donation, for a special event; Coconut Island received $250 from the campaign for advertisement on July 1.) Richard Rubin donated $100 to the Whisenant campaign on April 25. He describes himself as “retired law enforcement” in his donation.

The Rubin who taunted Lamb has previously run afoul of the law: he has an arrest record in Flagler County, once on a felony charge. In August 2009—the day of his 50th birthday—Rubin was charged with grand theft. He had the victim’s vehicle towed from a parking spot near European Village, and “had made prior statements to a witness who provided a written and verbal statement that he had a personal vendetta against the victim,” according to the charging affidavit. The charge was dropped.

A year later Rubin was arrested on a battery charge after he struck the victim and pushed the victim to the ground before bystanders pulled Rubin away, according to his arrest report. A year and a half later he pleaded no contest. Rubin and Whisenant did not return calls Tuesday evening.

Lamb did not know Rubin’s identity or that a Richard Rubin had donated to the Whisenant campaign until a reporter informed him.

“I sit here and I’m not surprised,” Lamb said. “I don’t know that other candidates have joined forces and are trying to attack me or what, I get beat up on Facebook by Jerry O’Gara, I guess Whisenant has taken his turn.” Two candidates—O’Gara and Rick Staly, the former undersheriff—walked up to Lamb at the forum and assured him they were not connected to the masked man outside.

In the interview moments later, Lamb said he was willing to give Whisenant the benefit of the doubt. “There’s no way to say that Mark put him up to it,” Lamb said. “He may have done that entirely on his own.”

But someone called the cops on Rubin. Lamb said he did not do so, nor does he know of any of his supporters who did so—though, he noted, that could well have happened. He said he would seek to find out.

john lamb sheriff whisenant

John Lamb. (© FlaglerLive)

It appeared that Rubin was not doing anything illegal. But there is an odd law on the books, written 65 years ago during the more rabid days of red scares and anti-communist McCarthyism—and likely vulnerable to a legal challenge, as most of that era’s laws across the country have been scrapped or fallen to challenges—that forbids the wearing of a mask, hood or other device on a public way. The Florida Supreme Court has since found chapter 876 of Florida law (entitled “Criminal Anarchy, Treason, and Other Crimes Against Public Order”) to implicate First Amendment protections unless the act is accompanied by willful violence or criminal acts. Some Muslim women, for example, who routinely wear full head coverings in Florida are not barred from doing so anywhere, including on public ways.

The law, however, remains on the books.

Someone—the record does not show who: 911 callers are exempt from the public record law—called 911 about the man on the bike at 5:10 p.m. Monday, when Rubin was at the entrance to the school, by the traffic light—on a public right of way. The 911 caller specified: he (or she) did not want to be contacted by the law enforcement officer who would respond to the scene, suggesting that whoever called was connected to a campaign and also did not want to be unmasked.

By 5:23, one of two sheriff’s deputies had spoken with Rubin and gotten his identity. Rubin, the deputy reported, “was obviously conducting a peaceful protest against a specific candidate for sheriff,” the 911 notes state. Rubin apparently did not want his identity known, but the deputy told him it would become part of the record. “The subject was advised why he was being stopped and was also advised per f.s.s 876.12 he was not authorized to conceal or hide his face. He was advised to uncover his face. The subject was very compliant and produced his Florida ID after he was advised all that information.” But Rubin wanted to follow-up with a supervisor, who spoke with him at 7:30 p.m., when Rubin said he’d be calling the sheriff about the incident.

Rubin may be a Whisenant supporter, but he’s not casting a vote in the Aug. 30 primary: As of the May 22 database at the elections supervisor, Rubin was not registered to vote in Flagler County, though that may have changed by last week, when registration books closed.

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32 Responses for “Masked Man Who Taunted Lamb at Sheriff’s Forum Is Unmasked as Whisenant Supporter”

  1. Wishful thinking says:

    I met Lamb- his eyes are sincere- eyes talk a lot. He has my vote

  2. Robert Lewis says:

    I will never shop in his store. I will never vote for his candidate. This kind of behavior should never be acceptable. Shame on you Mr. Whisenant! Shame on you!!

  3. Joe A says:

    Flagler County politics…. SMH !!!

  4. Kendall says:

    The Rubin’s are such nice people and have remained dedicated to European Village through so many challenges. I hate to hear this. Hoping it’s just a momentary lapse in sanity.

  5. Fredrick says:

    These people are acting like 5 year olds. They need a good woopin with a switch.

  6. Layla says:

    And this is exactly why we need a new sheriff and I hope it won’t be Mr. Whisenant. Mr. Lamb and his family are neighbors of mine. I’ll stick with them.

  7. Geezer says:

    Mark Whisenant: isn’t that the effusive and thoroughly cheerful fellow who was interviewed by Flaglerlive?
    https://flaglerlive.com/96183/mark-whisenant-2016-interview/

    Richard Rubin: the masked barber cape whatchamacallit ninny.

  8. Disgusted says:

    Disgusting behavior. Yes, this man is well known in the European Village, but not in a good way. He is a real trouble maker and a bully. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that he’s involved in this nutty but disturbing act. The candidate he is representing should be ashamed as well.

  9. DaveT says:

    Hey Whisenant nothing like loosing a election because of lack of brains. Whats next masked people walking the streets

  10. Rich H. says:

    Mr. Lamb is the ONLY candidate that took the time to visit our home, chat with us and ask for our support and vote. He will have it gladly. Good luck to you as endeavor to become Flagler County’s real Sheriff.

  11. Steve Clair says:

    Although I don’t personally condone this guys “masked” manner of protesting or expressing his opinion of this candidate’s residency, I do respect his constitutional right to do so under the 1st amendment

    As far as his wearing a “face wrap” being the basis for the reason for a “9-11” call to law enforcement is absurd. if this is actually the reason, then every motorcyclist , fisherman,or lawn maintenance person etc. should/could be stopped by law enforcement and asked to reveal their face and produce identification when wearing a face wrap, bandanna or any other item protecting their faces from the elements in public places.

    Watch TV folks,nearly everyday in our great nation people peacefully protesting or assembling to decry or speak out against what they feel is unjust are seen wearing masks, or hoodies etc. Everything from political rallies, Flint Michigan water problems ,to GMO issues with Monsanto etc. !

    Doesn’t make them criminals simply by concealing their faces and they are actually protected by “stop and frisk” laws and ARE NOT required to produce Identification OR unmask themselves to law enforcement

    Unless this protester was suspected of committing, was about to or had committed a crime, this is just a “Consensual” encounter and he shouldn’t be forced to produce ID or revel his face by law enforcement, regardless of who finds this mans lawful constitutional right to “protest” unnerving.

    It appears from reading this article, he was told he had to produce ID and revel his face?

    AND the caller called “9-11”, so we can’t discover who called? Was this really an “Emergency” call that warranted calling law enforcement ? because of a protest of a candidate’s residency?

    Shaking my head in total disbelief!!!

    has already been decided in the US Supreme Court, under Terry v Ohio (1968) and addressed under Florida State Statue 901.151 “Stop and Frisk”

    might be a good time to contact an attorney Mr. Rubin

  12. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    If you were familiar with the way that FCSO operates then you wouldn’t be surprised.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    And the freedom of peaceful speech of Mr. Rubin..?

  14. KKsign74 says:

    Possibly the reason someone called (and I’m just guessing mind you) is that they were in front of a school in a mask. Overboard? Maybe, but if you’re going to protest, don’t be ashamed and hide your identity. Just do it.

  15. Rich says:

    @ Steve Clair:

    Steve I have to say I disagree with your statements above. Yes Rubin was exercising Constitutional Rights; however, the fact that he was wearing a mask should have given rise to several of the current and retired law enforcement officers present at the forum for the public safety. It is not a common, everyday occurrence to encounter someone wearing a mask in public. Would this behavior be accepted by bank personnel, liquor store personnel, Publix personnel, convenience store personnel, or school teachers / administrators when encountering someone wearing a mask?

    The concept of wearing a mask is to hide the identity of the person wearing the mask. The intentions for hiding the identity of the mask wearer can be various but most times the intent is nefarious in nature.

    You comment on protesters wearing masks across the United States. The peaceful protests I have seen covered by the media did not show people wearing masks when peacefully protesting. The violent and riotous protests covered by the media have shown the vast majority of the violent protesters and rioters wearing masks. And who are the victims of these violent protests: usually law enforcement and the small business owners, not political candidates.

    Florida Statute 876, which covers theses issues, is titled Criminal Anarchy, Treason, and Other Crimes Against Public Order for a reason.

    May I suggest you read over the following sub-sections of Chapter 876:

    876.11 Public place defined.—For the purpose of ss. 876.11-876.21 the term “public place” includes all walks, alleys, streets, boulevards, avenues, lanes, roads, highways, or other ways or thoroughfares dedicated to public use or owned or maintained by public authority; and all grounds and buildings owned, leased by, operated, or maintained by public authority.

    876.12 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on public way.—No person or persons over 16 years of age shall, while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state

    876.16 Sections 876.11-876.15; exemptions.—The following persons are exempted from the provisions of ss. 876.11-876.15:
    (1) Any person or persons wearing traditional holiday costumes;

    (2) Any person or persons engaged in trades and employment where a mask is worn for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety of the wearer, or because of the nature of the occupation, trade, or profession;

    (3) Any person or persons using masks in theatrical productions, including use in Gasparilla celebrations and masquerade balls;

    (4) Persons wearing gas masks prescribed in emergency management drills and exercises.

    This last sub-section is the reason why motorcycle riders, fishermen, and landscapers wearing masks to protect themselves are not stopped or questioned by the police.

    In today’s environment of civil unrest and violent protests, law enforcement should be on a heightened alert. Yes someone called “911” to notify law enforcement of Rubin’s presence. Had no one called “911” to alert FCSO of Rubin, I am confident that someone from the FCSO on-duty or off-duty, would have made contact with Rubin to confirm not only his identity but his intentions as well. Rubin, obviously, is no stranger to the FCSO and the Flagler County Jail.

    You cite the Florida “Stop and Frisk” law, Statute 901.151 and suggest that Rubin consult with an attorney. I believe there was every reason to stop Rubin and question him, and then subsequently RELEASE him as was done by FCSO.

    901.151 Stop and Frisk Law.—
    (1) This section may be known and cited as the “Florida Stop and Frisk Law.”

    (2) Whenever any law enforcement officer of this state encounters any person under circumstances which reasonably indicate that such person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this state or the criminal ordinances of any municipality or county, the officer may temporarily detain such person for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of the person temporarily detained and the circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad which led the officer to believe that the person had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense.

    (3) No person shall be temporarily detained under the provisions of subsection (2) longer than is reasonably necessary to effect the purposes of that subsection. Such temporary detention shall not extend beyond the place where it was first effected or the immediate vicinity thereof.

    (4) If at any time after the onset of the temporary detention authorized by subsection (2), probable cause for arrest of person shall appear, the person shall be arrested. If, after an inquiry into the circumstances which prompted the temporary detention, no probable cause for the arrest of the person shall appear, the person shall be released.

    (5) Whenever any law enforcement officer authorized to detain temporarily any person under the provisions of subsection (2) has probable cause to believe that any person whom the officer has temporarily detained, or is about to detain temporarily, is armed with a dangerous weapon and therefore offers a threat to the safety of the officer or any other person, the officer may search such person so temporarily detained only to the extent necessary to disclose, and for the purpose of disclosing, the presence of such weapon. If such a search discloses such a weapon or any evidence of a criminal offense it may be seized.

    (6) No evidence seized by a law enforcement officer in any search under this section shall be admissible against any person in any court of this state or political subdivision thereof unless the search which disclosed its existence was authorized by and conducted in compliance with the provisions of subsections (2)-(5).

    Kudos to the person or persons who called 911 to report Rubin’s presence. Again in today’s environment: “See something say something.” Let the responding law enforcement officer determine what further action should be taken afterwards.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is the best publicity for Lamb that I have seen yet. With friends like Rubin, Whisenant doesn’t need enemies.

  17. palmcoaster says:

    I won’t change the good current sheriff services that we have now with Jim Manfre for anyone else at this point. Rapid response to calls have never been better and the clean up of undesirable criminals in our Palm Harbor area of Palm Coast outstanding. Keep up the good work Sheriff Manfre to get re-elected.

  18. Steve Clair says:

    @Rich

    We can agree to disagree on this, that’s the the beauty of 1st amendment ! I just didn’t see the need to quote all the Florida Statutes you so nicely pointed out to me, (which I’m also quite familiar with),but thank you anyway professor

    Any “reasonable” person/law enforcement officer could see what he was doing ..quite evident by the huge sign attached to his bike and the prominent wording, accusing a Sheriff’s candidate of not living here in the county.. on a public sidewalk….in front of a venue that was advertised as the location of debate between candidates for Flagler County Sheriff…in which the person he was questioning the residency was a scheduled speaker.

    Not at all a threat to anyone or society, as you put it to ” bank personnel, liquor store personnel, Publix personnel, convenience store personnel, or school teachers / administrators when encountering someone wearing a mask”

    I do agree with you those situations should cause alarm with someone wearing something to conceal their identity in those situations or locations , but that’s not what it was, nor could it ever be implied as anything else, he didn’t enter the venue covered with his face wrap and wearing camouflage, he stayed out in front of the school with his bike.

    But to put it bluntly, was there ever any doubt in anyone’s mind what this guys intention really was? I’m sure quite a few people drove by and knew immediately there wasn’t a problem,( by a mounted sign on his bicycle expressing his political concerns), any different then the candidates who wave their signs at all the major intersections and polling places?, should we have deputies check out with them and identify them as well?? Maybe they should call “9-11” for that as well? and have them remove their hats, sunglasses, so we can see who they really are!

    If you want to get technical in your definition of what he was wearing and call it a “mask”, it’s a facial wrap that many people wear to protect themselves from the elements or keep cool…drive down the river or any lake, you’ll see many fishermen wearing them

    Walmart sells them all day long for $10.00, for just that exact purpose. ( picked some up today)

    And contrary to your statement about seeing them worn in the media “did not show people wearing masks when peacefully protesting.” I’ve seen many times where they are peaceful and they are wearing them to protect themselves and their identity from backlash,( when they chose to exercise their constitutional rights to protest an issue) , as in this guys case.

    I don’t know Mr .Rubin nor do I plan to know him, my point was he had a right to demonstrate/ protest in any manner he chooses to without having prove his identity or uncover his face, as long as it was done in a peaceful manner, none of which is” Anarchy, Treason or other crimes against public order”, so your theory goes out the window on that, as it should have with the responding deputies as well

    Unless you or law enforcement can show he had committed, was committing or about to commit a crime he could’ve continued to display his sign and done so without being identified , or he could’ve simply rode off in the sunset with the mystery remaining. Even under “Stop and Frisk” that’s addressed…

    Oh btw, this last quote by you was the most impressive non-justification of your argument

    ” In today’s environment of civil unrest and violent protests, law enforcement should be on a heightened alert”
    Really???? where was the “civil unrest” ? or “violent protest”? heightened alert??

    This guy chose to dress in what he felt protected him from having his identity known, on a bicycle with a huge sign,stating his stance on a political candidate and did so in a peaceful, non violent manner, which he has a right to do

    Too bad people want to make everything so horrible and damning to our society…. for voicing his stance on a local issue with a candidate,

  19. Anonymous says:

    Freeedom of speech!! If men can dress like women, why can’t this man wear a mask and dress like he wants to? It is public knowledge that Lamb is from Jacksonville, he has been demoted in his current job. One should be required to live in the county for at least a year to run for public office. It appears Lamb has set up shop to run. I bet if he doesn’t win, he will be out of here and try to find someone else’s job. Did his wife quit her police job, or was she terminated? There is a lot to this candidate that makes me rethink what I thought was the best candidate. Sometimes we have to tell ourselves, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    What about freedom of religion? When I am in malls and out shopping I see females who have their heads and most of their faces covered and nothing is being done about it. Why is there preferential treatment of some?

    Florida Statute 876.12 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on public way.—No person or persons over 16 years of age shall, while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state.
    History.—s. 2, ch. 26542, 1951.

  20. retired says:

    Steve, I can’t believe you’re suggesting that a deputy be sued. Wasn’t it several days ago that you told Staly you would never call him a brother because of what he did to your career. Yet you suggest that one of your “Brothers” should have to endure a lawsuit.
    I understand your dislike for the current leadership at the FCSO, but take out your fristrations on someone who was responsible for your dismissal. Not a hard working deputy just trying to do a job.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Steve Clair,
    You seem to be the only one here with common sense. I elect you Sheriff!

  22. girl says:

    I agree, with Mr. Clair… as far as who called 911, I thought they had to give a name? Just asking…

  23. Anonymous says:

    Freedom of speech with a mask In front of a school, He’s been driving around with a billboard on the back of his dodge caravan being a cheerleader for Whisenant..

  24. Gkimp says:

    This “Rattled” lamb? Not Sheriff material!

  25. Layla says:

    @ Anonymous: Your mask is slipping. And so are your elections chances.

    I have attended several of these forums for the sheriffs and never heard anyone have the nerve to make false accusations against these candidates, but I read plenty right here.

  26. Not Yet Retired says:

    As the old saying goes… ” A man is known by the company he keeps “

  27. Geezer says:

    Ay, ay, ay, ay! oh, I am dee Frito Bandito.

    Sing boys and girls!

  28. Layla says:

    To Robert Lewis: Mr. Lewis, I hope you won’t punish this man by attempting to destroy what has been a very successful business in Palm Coast.

    Lapses in judgment occur frequently in this community. If we did not forgive, those committing them would not learn anything.

  29. jim says:

    wether Whisenant knew his supporter was out there doing this or not?!?!? I have to say Whisenant is DONE!!! if he wasn’t already with that said I have to saw everything i’ve heard, seen, and listened to John Lamb, he is a man with a plan, who has a vision, the leadership, honesty, integrity, and COMMON SENSE to get the job done. He’s what this county has needed these past 12 years. Time for new, untainted blood with NO TIES to the F.C.S.O.

  30. Right says:

    @ Jim,

    oh no ties….no ties at all. Take another look friend.

  31. John Galt says:

    All Republican voters should know Whisenant ran as a Democrat in Charleston, SC against a Republican Sheriff. Rick Staley ran as a Democrat aginst his former boss a Republican Sheriff in Orange County now running against his former boss (a Democrat) in Flagler as a Republican. Ain’t Flagler politics fun???

  32. Layla says:

    I just got a robo call from the Staley campaign accusing Lamb of not living in Flagler County. John Lamb and his family are neighbors of mine.

    If a Sheriff’s candidate will so easily lie during a campaign, just think of the damage he’ll do as Sheriff. Rick Staley needs to be disqualified from this race. Flagler County has had enough ethically challenged Sheriffs.

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