Flagler County Commissioner Joe Mullins, who has made a chronic habit of speeding, getting pulled over then attempt to get out of a ticket by abusing his authority, told a Florida Highway Patrol trooper that “I run the county” in one such attempt on I-4 last month, video of the encounter shows.
Mullins was interrupting the trooper, who was explaining to the commissioner why he was getting ticketed for going 20 mph over the speed limit (90 in a 70). The trooper ignored him and continued to explain Mullins’s option. It was Mullins’s second attempt to pull the commissioner card, the first attempt being a literal attempt to do so: he’d flashed his business card to the trooper, as he has to other law enforcement in similar situations. (See: “‘If You Get Out of This Car You’re Going to Jail,’ Troopers Warned Joe Mullins in Confrontational Stop.”)
Earlier in June, when he was pulled over in Seminole County also for going over 90 mph (in a 60 mph zone), on I-4, a trooper there reported to his dispatch center that Mullins “flashed his business card to get out of ticket.”
FlaglerLive reported on both the I-4 and I-95 incidents previously, with video obtained from the I-4 incident and court documents from that and other incidents. Further documents have emerged since, including video of the I-95 incident, fleshing out the details of those encounters, which portray Mullins speaking to troopers in even more hostile or egregious ways than previously reported. (See: “Again Ticketed for Speeding, Flagler Commission Chairman Joe Mullins Again Begs for Favor.”)
Audio on the video of the I-4 traffic stop was especially muffled by noise of the Interstate, making various portions of the confrontation between Mullins and two troopers who had pulled him over difficult to decipher in parts. (Defending himself on social media or elsewhere, Mullins attacked the reporting, calling it lies. After this article published, he reduced the issue to “something as simple speeding ticket” in a video on his Facebook page, and said the problem was “Democrats out there smoking crack.” Mullins considers himself a Republican.)
But the troopers relayed their exchange with Mullins to the Florida Highway Patrol dispatch center in St. Augustine, a transcript of which was obtained by FlaglerLive.
After he was pulled over for going 31 miles faster than the posted speed limit on an express lane in Seminole, the trooper reported, Mullins, who immediately identified himself as a Flagler County commissioner–it is not clear if, in that stop, he claimed to “run the county,” but he did say he runs the state–was “extremely condescending, belligerent, illogical and disrespectful,” according to the trooper’s own words.
Mullins routinely portrays himself in public or at the county commission as a friend of law enforcement. He is running for reelection (he was elected in 2018), with his alleged support of law enforcement a prominent part of his campaign. He speaks of himself as a man who respects all those in uniform and the work they do–and who prays for them, his head in a pronounced bow, at the beginning of each meeting.
That was not how he responded to being pulled over last month in Seminole, when, after failing to get out of a ticket, he decided to argue with the troopers: he lambasted one of the two for the way he’d been pulled over, then he threatened the trooper’s job: “Stated it would be a career-ending move if I arrested him for failing to obey a lawful order,” the trooper reported. Both troopers had been ordering Mullins to drive off, after he was ticketed. Mullins argued instead, and drew a threat of getting arrested.
He was not as belligerent in the Flagler stop, when he was clocked going 92 in a 70. Mullins is heard saying something about not realizing something, an apparent reference to his red Ferrari, by which time he’d already flashed his business card and handed it to the trooper, who kept asking Mullins for his insurance and registration. He handed an insurance card that had expired in 2019, but said he had a copy on his phone.
The trooper told Mullins that he would normally issue a warning, but Mullins had already received one such warning recently–a yet-unreported additional instance of speeding–so he would have to be given a citation. (See: “Joe Mullins Wanted Sheriff to Fix Speeding Ticket in 2017; He Invoked Staly’s Name in Traffic Stop.”)
Just as the trooper was telling him the citation would have to be paid within 30 days, with three options, Mullins interrupted him. The trooper did not understand at first. “I’m sorry?” the trooper asked him.
“I run the county,” Mullins tells him.
“You run the county?” the trooper asks him, clearly nonplussed for an instant–as Mullins says he’s the “chairman of the county commission,” a ceremonial role that requires him to run commission meetings, when he is there to run them (the task has on a few occasion gone to Greg Hansen, the vice chairman, in Mullins’s absences), but that does not give him any more power than other commissioners, let alone the authority to “run the county.” Doing so would be a breach of law. The actual running of the county is the responsibility of Heidi Petito, the county administrator. Commissioners only set policy and direction for Petito to follow, without administrative interference from commissioners. Not all commissioners understand or respect the boundary.
The trooper did not seem interested in Mullins’s title. He quickly returned to the task at hand: “I just want to explain, I don’t want any miscommunication, so I just have to explain, OK?” the trooper tells Mullins. He then gave him the various options to either pay the ticket and get three points on his license or opt to fight the ticket–which Mullins did, in effect putting to work the near form-letter he’s used in at least one other instance, pleading with a judge to withhold adjudication.
A judge ordered him to take driving school on June 27 (he elected to take driving school regarding the Seminole ticket, to avoid points), and Mullins paid his $281 fine last Tuesday, handing in an “A+” for his completion of traffic school, at LowestPriceTrafficSchool.com./