By Andrew Gant
Volusia County’s “inspector general” Jon Kaney withdrew his remaining subpoenas in the county’s Waverly Media investigation on Friday and said he’ll provide the investigative records his opponents have been pressing him to release.
At a court hearing Friday morning in DeLand, a judge decided that Kaney’s withdrawal of those subpoenas — which had been challenged by Ted Doran, Justin Kennedy and Waverly Media itself — rendered moot Doran’s counterclaim challenging the legality of the whole investigation.
Kaney said to continue to argue the issue would be pointless. “It’d be a huge waste of money at this point to debate an academic issue,” he said after the hearing.
Doran said Kaney and the county were “dodging” the issue because they would lose to him. “They know they’re wrong, and they’re dodging it,” he said.
The hearing was set weeks ago after Doran, Kennedy, Waverly and its officers challenged Kaney’s authority to subpoena them as part of the Volusia County Council’s investigation of Waverly and its political contributions. The State Attorney’s Office recently closed its investigation of the company and found that it violated campaign finance laws, but no candidates who received contributions were complicit in any wrongdoing. The State Attorney’s Office investigation files included the interviews Kaney needed to close his own investigation.
Waverly was Volusia’s biggest bus-bench advertising company and provided bench advertising for certain local political candidates in ways that skirted campaign finance limits, the State Attorney’s Office found.
The council’s own investigation has lasted for months and been delayed by the challenge in court.
Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano still has to rule on whether Kaney’s records should have been made available to Doran in a past public-records request. If he rules in Doran’s favor, Doran could be entitled to have the county pay his attorney’s fees.
Kaney was providing all his records to Doran on Friday, and The News-Journal was also in the process of acquiring them.
After the hearing, Kennedy, who is running again this year for the council’s District 3 seat, confronted Kaney and asked him why he hadn’t called him to ask him about Waverly rather than subpoenaing him. Kennedy has said the council’s investigation was politically motivated and meant to make certain candidates look suspicious.
Doran said he had always been willing to speak to Kaney in an interview, but not in response to a subpoena. His interview with the State Attorney’s Office, he said, is the same thing he would have provided Kaney.
“I always offered him what he was willing to accept,” Doran said. “Now, all of a sudden, that’s OK. We spent $150,000 for something he could’ve gotten months ago.”
Volusia County Chair Jason Davis, who has been in the minority opposed to the council’s investigation, also attended the hearing on Doran’s side.