Rep. Charles McBurney at Center of Contested Trooper Firing

By: Dave Heller | Posted: March 28, 2013 3:55 AM
A fired Florida Highway Patrol trooper is accusing his former agency of promoting an unwritten policy of not issuing traffic tickets to state lawmakers, even when they deserve them.

Trooper Charles Swindle was fired over the way he handled a traffic stop involving state Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville.
Charles McBurney

Rep. Charles McBurney

McBurney was traveling to Tallahassee last November when he was pulled over for speeding.

Swindle decided to issue a warning ticket. He claims the Highway Patrol does not ticket lawmakers because they control pay raises and other funding.

But McBurney did get a $10 fine for not having proof of insurance, even though he insisted he did have an insurance card and tried to show it.

An inspector general’s report concludes the trooper told McBurney he could either take the $250 ticket for speeding or the $10 fine. So McBurney complained to the head of FHP and, following an investigation, Swindle was fired.

Ernie Duarte

Lt. Col. Ernie Duarte | Credit: Dave Heller

Lt. Col. Ernie Duarte says Swindle was let go for unethical behavior.

"Based on our findings, we found that this particular member acted in an unethical manner and as a result of that, he was terminated. We have a policy that requires our members to act in a professional, ethical manner, use good judgment and based on the findings of the case we found that this member did not follow those rules and guidelines and therefore he was terminated.”

“FHP does not have a written or unwritten policy that requires our members to treat members of the Legislature any differently than the regular public.

To prove it, the Florida Highway Patrol issued of list of about a dozen lawmakers who have received traffic tickets from state troopers over the past two years.

Swindle is challenging the firing.

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Video Credit: Dave Heller

Dave Heller is a Tallahassee freelance reporter/videographer.

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (68)

McBully McBurney
8:41PM SEP 19TH 2013
Bullying isn't tolerated in our school system and shouldn't be tolerated in our government. DHSMV will be hiring Trooper Swindle back because it is the right thing to do. I'm glad to see this is one bully (McBurney) who didn't win......
10:41AM SEP 16TH 2013
This Trooper was obviously a political pawn! One of the first things a officer learns in the police academy is about discretionary power. It's pathetic that McBurney used his position to influence the FHP to terminate this Trooper. What's even more pathetic is that the FHP caved in and come up with the BS about unethical behavior. Law enforcement officers have utmost discretionary power and in this case FHP is trying to cover their butts for their unethical treatment and disciplinary action against the Trooper. As a Florida resident I would never vote for this guy McBurney.
McBully McBurney
8:43PM SEP 19TH 2013
Anybody who has EVER been bullied by anyone or just hates bullying shouldn't vote for him.
Hank Stone
5:03PM JUN 10TH 2013
Police officers should have some discretion to give a warning or a reduced offense ticket.
These can be appropriate deterrents.
10:46AM SEP 16TH 2013
They do have a lot of discretionary power, especially in dealing with traffic enforcement. Unfortunately when dealing with the double standards involving politicians, officers are in a no win situation when it comes to these gods. Their punishment and penalties are often very harsh! "Every department has the catch all charge "Conduct unbecoming a officer" that is always used in cases like this.
Kris Tobin
9:55PM JUN 9TH 2013
I think I would have (like the other legislator) taken the officers 'break' of $10 and been quite about and counted it as a blessing. The Trooper did NOT deserve to get fired just because you were unwilling to pay the $10 fine. So I think you Rep McBurney pay the speeding fine as well.

I would think it a nice gesture to help Trooper Swindle get his job back... Plus were is the supervisor that Trooper Swindle called before he made the decsion on the course of action? Should he have been fired too?

This story is a real shame..
Darlene Ross
7:19PM JUN 6TH 2013
Congratulations on getting a hard working FHP officer fired....for doing what he was told to do by the supervisor. Good luck the next time you are even spitting one the sidewalk...."they" will be watching.
11:00PM MAY 17TH 2013
Charles McBurney - I would never go even a mile above the speed limit anywhere for the rest of my life if I were you.

Also - you are not going to be very popular with your legislative colleagues when you go back to Tallahassee...
who cares
1:57AM APR 9TH 2013
I support what McBurney did and I'm a Democrat! So he threw his weight around to get this guy fired. Troopers are a dime a dozen.
James R.
1:03AM APR 9TH 2013
Im ashamed this guy is a member of the party I support.
Teresa Mahoney
6:21PM APR 5TH 2013
Rep. Charles McBurney..wow.. what a total hypocrite . i feel bad for the trooper, poor guy sure he would be be in trouble either way. break or no break. shame on McBurney. The trooper unlike him really does work for the people.
7:39PM APR 3RD 2013
So McBurney is on the House Appropriations committee. I'm sure there was no "threat" intended when he sent his letter to Lt. David Brierton on legislative stationery instead of his attorney firm's stationery. Yeah, I'm sure the "higher ups" got the message loud and clear from Representative McBurney.....I wish I had letterhead that had that kind of power....
John Smith
12:33PM APR 3RD 2013
He had this guy fired because he was issued a $10 citation. Come to my state buddy. I can assure you won't receive any warnings here. You're just another low life politician/lawyer.
11:09AM APR 3RD 2013
I'd like to know what kind of disciplinary action was leveied (if any) against the Sergeant that Trooper Swindle conferred with - if the action of the trooper is deemed wrong. It's also incredulous to me how Rep McBurney can conduct himself as a bastion of integrity in the supposed wrongdoing of others when he illegally operated a specially licensed vehicle well over the established speed limit. Who is currently holding HIM (McBurney) accountable for that violation and betrayal of public trust?
8:31AM APR 3RD 2013
Mcburney should resign his position immediately. He disregarded the law and right is right! He set the level of punishment for such things.
A Hoosier
1:20AM APR 3RD 2013
How can Rep. McBurney keep his job, and not resign IMMEDIATELY after purposely getting a "working man" fired?
6:19AM APR 3RD 2013
Uh "a hoosier" he is a wealthy attorney whom I am sure money had nothing to do with getting him his job. Now what about that makes you think he gives a rat's butt about the "working man"?
rebekah miller
12:43AM APR 3RD 2013
Rep Charles McBurney, you are angry because you got caught, and mad you had to stop. You are a disgrace to the state of Florida, I have no respect for you!! Everyday this young man has put his life on the line for you and me and this is the respect he gets! SHAME on YOU!
rebekah miller
12:43AM APR 3RD 2013
Rep Charles McBurney, you are angry because you got caught, and mad you had to stop. You are a disgrace to the state of Florida, I have no respect for you!! Everyday this young man has put his life on the line for you and me and this is the respect he gets! SHAME on YOU!
not important
10:25PM APR 2ND 2013
Rep. Charles McBurney should be fired for speeding in a vehicle owned by the state. I am a registered Republican but would never vote for a man who thinks it is ok for him to speed but not ok for an officer to forgive him for that after conferring with his Sargent. He needs to pay the way for this officers family now.
6:48PM APR 2ND 2013
It bothers me that this legislator was concerned over a $10 ticket; didn't care whether or not Trooper Swindle has a family to support. He was just mad because he was stopped by a lowly state worker. So Representative McBurney are you saying Trooper Swindle should have given you a ticket for speeding? If so, why not donate that money to charity?
6:41PM APR 2ND 2013
Yeah...he looks like a Gomer...but do they send letters to the troopers bosses on their representative letterhead to complain? Charles McBurney was mad because by gosh he had a "legislator" tag on his car and he STILL was stopped by a trooper. That's the bottom line....
Shannon O.
5:05PM APR 2ND 2013
Wow! As the wife of a fellow officer and prior office myself..this is insane. This jack-leg Mr. McBurney does not need to be Re-Elected by the good state of Florida and I am not even from there. At each and every turn, there should be an upstanding officer of the law that shall give this man a ticket even if he failed to use proper signals @ a left hand turn. If he fails to come to a complete stop at a stop sign..please Dear Lord let there be an officer there to use his discretion and write this man a ticket! God forbid that you have a wife or children that will be beind the wheel or even your mother or father, sister or brother..these officers will from this day forward (in order to keep their job) EMPTY THE TICKET BOOK! MY DEAR REP. McBURNEY...JUST IN CASE NO ONE TOLD YOU,....YOU SIR ARE AN IDIOT!
pete in FL
4:23PM APR 2ND 2013
He is on a number of judicial committees along with appropriations.

I wonder if he sent a check for the $280.00 speeding fine and the 10.00 for the lack of insurance with his complaint. ?

I would expect this good Christain to introduce a bill today to save the taxpayers some money by eliminating the SPECIAL plates that signal "special treatment". FAT CHANCE of a shyster lawyer doing any of the above!! :((
4:17PM APR 2ND 2013
With all the recession going on with our country, you Rep. McBurney, just had a man fired!! Since you have so much free time on your hands to write such a ludicrous letter, may I suggest you start taking care of your state!!! After all one of your constituents could also write a letter and you my dear may find yourself without a job come next election!!!!
Donna Tanner
3:52PM APR 2ND 2013
First off, as you stated, you don't have a policy to stand or state special treatment to anyone.

So, Officer please use your discretion.

You seem to have thoughts of a policy that stands and states: All Officer's need to be mean cause I never want you to be a nice person to anyone, act K9, cause if you don't, they might complain.

Second off, Officer's job description, to act upon their discretion at the time of incident.

The Officer: Observed
The Officer: Acted
The Officer: Used his discretion

This Officer hid nothing from you.

If you, as his Superior, felt, he should have acted differently, then a reprimand should have been given, not fire this man.

And you, Mr. McBurney, you cant even carry your proper ID's in your car, which I'll forgive you for, your human, but the Officer didn't, pay that ticket.
2:32PM APR 2ND 2013
Rep. Charles McBurney was so discontent with the trooper pulling him over and even more insulted by getting a ticket that he clearly retaliated by having him fired. This ass wipe should be investigated himself for putting the citizens of Florida in danger for his reckless driving ways. Why they don't check on the cars computer records or if any sunpass records of the government vehicles he drives and give him what he really deserves.
Frank. M
1:14PM APR 2ND 2013
McBurney is a douchbag!!! You should resign NOW. We dont want a low life scumbag like you to represent us. RESIGN !!!
1:05PM APR 2ND 2013
McBurney, you can most likely bet your last dollar that you'll never get another break, and I'd guess your fellow legislators won't either. Serves you right, I'd drive the speed limit from now on. The eunich "leaders" of the FHP might fire a trooper for NOT writing a ticket, but they CANNOT fire one for writing a ticket. LOLs to you.
12:57PM APR 2ND 2013
The message has been sent out loud and clear to all Florida state troopers. You do NOT under any circumstances stop a state congressman's car. Doesn't matter if he's speeding, erratic driving, road rage.....nada!
12:41PM APR 2ND 2013
Clearly they do have an unwritten policy about how they treat lawmakers. McBurney writes a complaint about the trooper and then the trooper is out of a job. Way to take care of your troops!
12:25PM APR 2ND 2013
Shame on you is RIGHT!!! How can you sleep at night knowing you got a man fired!!?? He has a family to support and you are acting like a little spoiled girl! You would have complained about getting that ticket too Im sure.. damned if he did and damned if he didnt write that ticket!! The worst thing that cop did that day was catch you speeding! YOU caused the demise of his career!! I hope you for your sake you get a conscience and get his job back!! Its the right thing to do!! KARMA is a B&^CH!!!
11:34AM APR 2ND 2013
Shame on you Rep. Charles McBurney, I am embarrassed to call you a leader. Do yourself a favor and retire.

Las Vegas, NV
ann r leach
11:33AM APR 2ND 2013
it is up the officer whether a ticket is given or not. i have been warned also and nothing is wrong with that. if the representative was given a ticket he would have just found someone to fix it anyway. the representative should feel guilty for the officer losing his job. the officer has bills also and does not deserve this.
Charles Militello
10:25AM APR 2ND 2013
You should be thankful for being stopped by a officer of the law with reasonable common sense. What go's around ,comes around. You should think it time to stepping down from lawmaking, your power has gone to your head.
9:19AM APR 2ND 2013
McBurney was let off easy.... is it too late to send him the $250 ticket so he feels better? I hope he gets voted out next election.
pete in FL
4:26PM APR 2ND 2013
randy , he won't get voted out...it is a strong REP district and as we know reps NEVER DO ANYTHING WRONG!!! Just the rest of us! :))
8:30AM APR 2ND 2013
McBurney pulled the biggest punk move ever. How the hell did the people ever elect him into office. He breaks the law by speeding then has the balls to get someone fired for cutting him am break. McBurney must have been tired of having his books knocked out of his hands when he was a high schooler. Shame on you.....
6:48AM APR 2ND 2013
all law enforcement officers in florida need to come together and stand beside this trooper.yall need to vote this rep out of office. good job troop (mississippi)
4:25AM APR 2ND 2013
If this legislator INSISTS that he wasn't speeding and had his insurance papers with him then where's the preferential treatment? Did the trooper's supervisor get fired too?

Get rid of the vanity plates too.

Florida voters wake up!
2:46AM APR 2ND 2013
I say that this guy should be "fired" when it comes time to vote and not only for this kind of crap that he started but also for his own personal actions by breaking the speed limit on our time and in our vehicle.
I mean really??? Mc Burney you have Mc Burneyed the people you are supposed to represent so how bout you get rid of the criminals and not the cops jerkoff!
This dummy is what is wrong with our politicians in the first place and I hope the officer gets his job back.
Charles R Watkins
2:27AM APR 2ND 2013
I can't believe you, this officer puts his life on the line for us every day and you disrespect him like this. You was the one in the wrong, and you call yourself a Christian so don't lie you were speeding.
Recall McBurney
11:30PM APR 1ST 2013
This McBurney character misused his official position and ripped off the taxpayers, by using official time and letterhead for personal business. How sad and cheap. He believes he is royalty and how dare did he get stopped. Easy, he was speeding. Take responsibility for your actions you sorry politician. Ask the Republican Party in Florida to apologize to the trooper and to reinstate him or pay for it during elections. Don't vote for McBurney! He wants to become a career politician, please stop him. Don't vote for McBurney or Mc-Whiny!
10:07PM APR 1ST 2013
Send an email to Rep. Charles McBurney like I did. It is public domain and can be easily found
James K
11:26PM APR 1ST 2013
I sent him an email tonight telling him he was a selfish guy and was egotistical in getting this poor guy fired. He is a jerk. I'm from New York but this politician doing what he did burns me up. People need to vote him out and never use him as a lawyer after he gets booted from the State job.
9:31PM APR 1ST 2013
Your complaint sould have been in court where the judge would have dismissed it! YOU SHOULD BE SITED for "misuse of taxpapers money" for using govt stationary and possibly govt time for it's preperation. Furthermore ... who paid the postage and how many taxpayers $$ did you speed on a govt phone (and your asst's) with your hope of media attention for being a "goodboy". ELECTION DAY = YOUR HISTORY!
9:24PM APR 1ST 2013
Rep Dip Crap was P.O.'ed because in spite of his (I'm Exempt) license plate the trooper dared to stop his raggedy carcass .........

Whenever you hear McBurney ....VOTE HELL NAW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Alan Bransdorfer
9:00PM APR 1ST 2013
Here is what happened: McBurney was so indignant that this cop would have the audacity to even give him a warning and a $10 ticket (The cop should have known his place, bowed down and apologized profusely for even pulling him over) that McBurney decided then and there he would get him fired. This was the best way to go about it.
kenney j kenner
8:58PM APR 1ST 2013
I think the Rep charles Mc Burney needs a ass wiping. I only wish I could have five min with him!! I'm sure we would find he is a puss! The state of Florida's Gov should be ashamed of himself!!
8:40PM APR 1ST 2013
Make sure we don't vote for this back stabbing bitch next time

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