ORLANDO – Political consultant Doug Guetzloe, founder of The Phoenix Network, is now serving his second day in the Orange County Jail, and will be placed in protective custody.
Allan Moore, public information officer for Orange County Corrections, said inmates are typically put into protective custody for one of two reasons.
“Either it’s because of their fame or notoriety, or because of the nature of their crime,” Moore said. “In this case, it would be because of his notority in the community.”
Guetzloe is the host of The Guetzloe Report on the Phoenix Network, the radio station in downtown Orlando tthat also hosts The Freeline Media Hour. Guetzloe was taken into custody on Wednesday, and is serving a 60 day jail sentence.
Moore said that as of 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Guetzloe was still in the jail’s booking and release center, and would be placed in a single cell. He said inmates who are well known in the community are put in solitary not only for their own protection, but “That’s also for the protection of the jail.” If other inmates know there’s a prominent person serving time with them, it could lead to a possible hostage situation, Moore said.
This case dates back to 2006, and started with a mailer Guetzloe sent out during a Winter Park mayoral election. The political mailer included a police report about a former candidate, David Strong. The report included information about Strong’s 1999 incident when he was accused of smearing dog feces on a neighbor’s face during a dispute.
The flier wasn’t identified as a paid electioneering communication, and Guetzloe did not put his name on it, as required by Florida law. The charge that was eventually filed against Guetzloe was “failure to include electioneering disclaimer,” a first degree misdemeanor.
In November 2006, Guetzloe pleaded no contest to 14 misdemeanor counts under state election law, and Orange County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Arnold sentenced him to 60 days in jail, an $8,500 fine, and three years of probation. In an interview with Freeline Media Orlando last November, Guetzloe called the sentence harsh and unfair.
“If someone had filed a complaint against me in those three years, that would have been a violation of my probation,” he said. “People would have been lining up. Rapists don’t get sentences this tough.”
Guetzloe appealed. However, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that “Guetzloe can be prosecuted for his failure to include ‘paid electioneering communication’ on the mail out,” and that the law he was being charged with do not violate his right to free political speech.
“The Supreme Court found that despite the statute’s problematic ‘name and address’ mandate, the generic requirement that all communications be marked with the phrase ‘Paid political advertisement’ in no way violated the right to engage in anonymous political speech,” the court’s decision stated.
On Wednesday, Judge Arnold upheld the 60 day sentence. The judge also imposed a $1,000 fine on the political consultant, and $50 in court costs. Guetzloe was ordered to start making payments of $30 a month to Collections Court, starting on June 11.
The judge denied a defense motion to allow Guetzloe to get released on bail, “based on the fact that the court believes the defendant is unlikely to prevail on the balance of issues defense has raised,” the court order states. The judge also denied a defense motion to allow Guetzloe to serve his sentence under home confinement.
Guetzloe was ordered to report to Orange County jail at noon on Wednesday.
“If defendant does not report today, the court will issue a pick-up order and the option for work release will be reconsidered,” the court order states.
The judge’s order does state that “Court has no objection to work release, if qualified.” Moore said Orange County Corrections is now checking to see if Guetzloe qualifies for being transferred to an Orange County work release center.
“We have to screen him for that criteria,” Moore said. “He’s being screened now for the possibility of his going on work release.”
Moore added that on Wednesday afternoon, Guetzloe “turned down all media requests,” and would not be available for interviews with the local press.
At the Phoenix Network studio on Delaney Avenue in downtown Orlando, The Guetzloe Report, which runs daily from 11 a.m. to noon, replayed an earlier show on Thursday. The Freeline Media Hour went live at 3 p.m., as it does every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The staff at Phoenix said they hope Guetzloe is back to work at the studio soon on work release.
A former inmate who served a month in the Orange County jail last year said inmates typically are placed in a ward with 30 cells, 15 on the top level and 15 below. There are three men housed in each cell.
Inmates are served three meals daily, the former inmate said, including at 5 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.