In his newest editorial cartoon, Bill Day takes on the state’s “Keystone Cops,” otherwise known as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
FDLE, in a rare moment of self-reflection, acknowledged it “could have better evaluated” the “threat” from Boca Raton-based blogger Daniel Tilson.
Tilson’s transgression? Using a Beatles lyric in a recent Context Florida post criticizing Gov. Rick Scott’s tax-cut proposal. Tilson’s column mocked Scott’s tax-cut plan, comparing it to the album Magical Mystery Tour.
A Facebook post linking to the article prompted an FDLE investigator to visit Tilson – at home — to investigate a reported “potential threat.”
The lyric in question: “Coming to take you away, take you away.”
After receiving “an anonymous tip” of a threatening comment about Gov. Rick Scott on Facebook, an FDLE investigator first attempted to visit Tilson, who was not home at the time, leaving a business card.
FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger explained to the Palm Beach Post that an analyst “passed the information on to her supervisor who forwarded it to FDLE’s Miami Region. … The Miami Region asked an FDLE Special Agent to speak with Mr. Tilson to determine whether the post was merely referencing a song or something more.
“Following their conversation, the matter was closed.”
FDLE officials routinely monitor open source and social media sites, looking for various threats including “potential threats” to schools, malls, sporting events, military, and law enforcement.
A statement from the agency said newly appointed FDLE Director Rick Swearingen will review the incident, promising to “ensure better coordination in the future.”
Tilson’s episode is just the latest black eye for the state’s top law enforcement agency.
In December, Scott and the Florida Cabinet botched the ouster of former FDLE head Gerald Bailey – a possible violation of the state’s open records laws. The resulting outcry prompted the four state leaders to hire outside counsel this week for their defense. On the taxpayer dime, of course.
So a botched blogger witch-hunt is the last thing Florida’s Keystone Cops need.