Flagler County Attorney Al Hadeed said Friday that Planning Board member Heather Haywood, who has made false and public accusations against Commissioner Greg Hansen, has not been responsive to a public record request, and what she has submitted about “Hansen” is deemed “inauthentic”–that is, either fabricated or part of a scam.
The County Commission on Monday is to vote on whether to retain Haywood’s membership on the planning board or to remove her.
It isn’t clear who is at the source of the inauthentic record, other than Haywood being half of the alleged exchange. What is clear is that it did not come from Hansen. Yet when Haywood finally submitted a screen shot of the purported record, on Dec. 11–20 days after the initial request and a week after the County Commission voted to reconsider her membership on the board in light of her mischaracterization and apparent non-compliance–the subject line of her email with the record was: “Hansen’s Facebook.”
There was no indication from Haywood that she believed the text was inauthentic, or that she may have been the target of a common scam, when a Facebook user impersonates another and develops a phishing sales pitch, as seems obvious from the screen shot she did send. Rather, in her submittal email to Adam Mengel, the county’s planning director, she asked flippantly: “What’s the latest scandal drama around water cooler?” The county has not taken to her flippancy, paired as it has been with the disparity between Haywood’s claims, or the absence of evidence of her claims.
“The County Attorney’s office is not satisfied with where things stand and will so report to the County Commission meeting this coming Monday,” Hadeed said. “We are not persuaded that we have received everything that she may have. Additionally, we are concerned that the record which she most recently sent is inauthentic.”
The Facebook Messenger exchange purports to have been started by “Hansen” on Oct. 23, when he asked Haywood how she was. “I’m doing good Hansen how are you??” Haywood replied at a little after 6 p.m. At 2 a.m. the next day, “Hansen” tells her he tested positive for strep, was otherwise fine, and asked her, “have you heard about the OAG program?” The odd reference to a Social Security Administration program and the time of the text might have raised an eyebrow or two.
It’s not clear when Haywood answered. But she asked “Hansen” if she had received her “message.” He said he had not, nor has Haywood submitted that message as part of her compliance with the record request. She asked “Hansen” if they could “grab coffee.”
On Nov. 6, “Hansen” said he was too busy for coffee, then wrote: “Let me ask you, and I apologize, I heard that you are going through a divorce? I’m trying to figure out whether you have worked through your differences and if you are living back together?” Haywood replied: “Umm ?? No I am not going through a divorce. I am divorced. This is what we need to discuss. The wrong questions are being asked and I feel under attacked [sic.] by one of your board members. I don’t like it. When can we connect?”
The county’s attorney’s office had Hansen and the county’s IT department review the exchange. Both said it was inauthentic. Hansen does not use Facebook Messenger or its derivatives. Asked if Haywood has attempted to portray the message as a scam, Hadeed said: “If that’s what she’s claiming, I’m not aware of that. I don’t know. To my knowledge we’ve not had any clarifying explanation. We have advised her that we do not believe it’s authentic.” Haywood never attempted to authenticate the message with Hansen before making her accusation.
He added: “The Board of County Commissioners is going to make the decision about whether she can continue to hold her seat on the Planning and Development Review Board, and separately, we’ll have to make the decision about what to do with the lack of production of public records and with the submittal of what is apparently an inauthentic record.”
Haywood’s membership on the planning board was the subject of questions and controversy long before the records issue. The County Commission appointed Haywood to the seven-member board in February 2022 as an at-large member. After her election to the commission that November, Leann Pennington started questioning how Haywood, who was homesteaded in Volusia County, could be serving on a development board in Flagler. When she applied for the Flagler seat, Haywood had not disclosed her homestead status in Volusia. She listed her residence in Flagler, where she has rented since her divorce. She has also kept her DeLand home as the licensing address for her real estate license, and listed that DeLand address on her Planning Board application as her business address.
The matter came to a head at the October 19 meeting of the commission, when Pennington pressed for Haywood’s removal. Haywood was not the only non-homesteaded person on a local advisory board, or the planning board. In the end, commissioners agreed to clarify membership disclosure requirements and qualifications for the county’s various advisory boards, including removing any requirement of homesteading, as long as the applicant is a Flagler County resident. Commissioners also agreed to keep Haywood on the board. But none have an out-of-county homestead.
But a short time earlier, Haywood had addressed the commission to explain her circumstances after her divorce, describing her homestead status there as essentially a technicality. “This could have been resolved so much differently,” she told the commissioners, then, picking up her phone, read a statement that included her accusations: “I have dealt the last five months of rumors being spread by Leanne in the community about my divorce, who I was in good graces with, whose back pocket I have been in,” she said. “I have spent the last five months answering extremely personal questions via text message from the people that she has chosen to speak to, and Mr. Hansen, I answered your very, very personal questions via Facebook Messenger, despite the fact that I felt that they had very much crossed the line. My divorce is none of anybody’s business.”
Though she had her phone in her hand, presumably including the messages she was referring to, including Hansen’s, she at no point gave an example or more precisely documented her allegations.
FlaglerLive the next morning, on Nov. 21, filed a public record request to Haywood “for any and all electronic communications, including emails, texts or messenger communications, you have received or sent to anyone, including Greg Hansen, regarding the qualifications for or questions about your tenure on the county planning board, since Oct. 1 and through Nov. 21.” The message was copied to the county attorney’s office, with a note to the attorneys to ensure that the request is complied with, and that there would be “no patience for delays or resistance on Ms. Haywood’s part.”
Delays, resistance, truculence, offensive and bigoted comments by email from Haywood to the attorneys followed, referencing the “mongrel” author of the request, questioning his citizenship status, describing it as “harassing” and potentially “dangerous,” and making additional, false allegations about the requester “being in cahoots with Leann Pennington about my actions” (Pennington was not aware of the request).
Hadeed in a stern Nov. 30 email attempted to caution her about the consequences she may face if she did not comply. “You really need to complete the task as quickly as you can to reduce your jeopardy and the County’s,” the attorney wrote her. She did not do so.
On Dec. 4, Hadeed briefed the County Commission on Haywood’s “troubling” posturing and lack of response, given the seriousness of her allegation. Hansen said Haywood had “stood right there and lied” about him, and motioned to have her appointment to the planning board reconsidered at the Dec. 18 meeting, giving her some additional time to comply with the request. The commission agreed.
Minutes after Hadeed’s briefing, Haywood wrote him, saying she “did have time to comb my device for electronic communication [sic.]” and sent in two brief text exchanges between her and two friends (see here, here and here). None of the texts reflected the “five months” she claimed to have been “answering extremely personal questions” about her planning board status, and none included anything from Hansen. On Dec. 11, she sent the alleged “Hansen” message.
A planning board meeting was scheduled for Dec. 12. Haywood did not show up, nor did several members of the board. The meeting had to be adjourned for lack of a quorum.