By Jim Smithson
(Orlando) Orange Osceola Circuit Judge C. Jeffrey Arnold defied an existing Florida Supreme Court injunction barring any “action by the lower tribunal” by ordering Florida anti-tax crusader Doug Guetzloe to report to the Orange County jail for allegedly violating an election law that no longer exists.
On May 11, 2011, Arnold abruptly ordered Guetzloe, 55, to report to the Orange County jail for a 60 day sentence that Arnold had imposed on October 22, 2010. Based on an appeal from Guetzloe, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously issued an order for Arnold “to show cause” why Arnold should not be removed from the case and the order further stated that the Supreme Court order, “shall stay further proceedings in the lower tribunal (Arnold’s court).”
Arnold also denied Guetzloe’s motions for a new trial; setting a bond amount; allowing home confinement; and several more motions. The new sentencing comes following a successful appeal by Guetzloe to the 5th District Court of Appeal that struck Arnold’s original sentence of 60 days in jail; $8,500 in fines and three years on probation. When the appellate court struck the sentence it sent the case back to Arnold’s court for a re-sentencing based on Guetzloe’s legal victory in the Daytona Beach District Court.
With no warning, Arnold gave Guetzloe just under three hours to report to the Orange County jail.
The refusal to acknowledge the Supreme Court order comes on the heels of a permanent restraining order issued by Federal District Chief Judge Stephan Mickle against enforcing the law under which Guetzloe was prosecuted. In an 2009 order, Mickle stated, “Defendants (State of Florida State Attorneys and Judges), and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, as well as those persons in active concert or participation with them are permanently enjoined from enforcing Florida’s electioneering communications laws of Chapter 106, as listed above.”
Mickle went even further by declaring the law an “unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution” and striking the law from the Florida Statutes. The law that Guetzloe was charged under is no longer on the Florida Statutes.
The United States Supreme court has long held that the state has no interest in requiring political disclaimers from individuals who chose to become involved in the political process. In the landmark case, McIntyre vs. Ohio, the court ruled unconstitutional any state requirements of disclosure.
Guetzloe, a popular talk show host and Chairman of Ax the Tax, Florida’s leading anti-tax grassroots citizens group, has been fighting the law and the first degree misdemeanor since 2006 when Guetzloe became the first individual in the nation to be criminally prosecuted for not having a state mandated “political disclaimer” on a campaign flyer. The failure of a printer to include the words “political advertisement paid for and approved by…” led longtime Guetzloe political opponent, Democrat State Attorney Lawson Lamar, to prosecute Guetzloe criminally for the first degree misdemeanor. Over 3,000 similar cases have either been dismissed or settled for as little as a $50 fine. Lamar, who Guetzloe calls “the most corrupt state attorney in Florida”, has been the subject of several Federal grand juries that have investigated “official corruption” and “bribery” by Lamar.
In 2006, Guetzloe exposed that Lamar and his two top deputies has enrolled in the Florida’s “DROP” program that allowed Lamar; Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Vose and Lamar’s PR director, Randy Means, to collect over $1.6 million in a lump payment from Florida’s public employees’ pension plan. Additionally Guetzloe uncovered the “resignation” that allowed Lamar and his aides to additionally qualify for their current salaries and a monthly pension payment that doubles their annual income and maintain their positions. “Its public thievery,” stated Guetzloe on The Guetzloe Report in 2006.
Ax the Tax has been credited with saving Florida taxpayers nearly $50 billion in proposed taxes that have been defeated by taxpayers with Guetzloe and Ax the Tax leading nearly 20 anti-tax battles since 1982.
Guetzloe’s fight has attracted the support of several conservative and free speech advocates including: The Sam Adams Alliance; The Center for Competitive Politics; NEWSMAX; TOWNALL.COM; Orange County Libertarian Party; The Tea Party; The Florida Taxpayers Union; The Institute for Justice and many more.
Guetzloe’s lead attorney in the case is constitutional expert, Orlando attorney Frederic B. O’Neal.
Neither Guetzloe nor Lamar’s office would comment on the current status of the situation.