Investigative Reporting project puts ex-deputy turned politician Heather Post in The Sunshine: She blatantly lied to voters about past illegal narcotics use to win 2016 election

Headline Surfer multimedia / Volusia County Councilwoman is shown in the photo illustration above during her 2016 campaign for the District 4 seat on the dais. And Post is featured with Sheriff Mike Chitwood in a video set to 'Draggin' the Line' by Tommy James, which peaked at N0. 4 in 1971. Some have associated the song with snorting lines of cocaine through a straw or a dollar bill rolled up. Allegations of past cocaine dogged the 2016 campaign of Heather Post who subsequently won election to the Volusia County Council with passionate denials, even turning things around by challenging her opponent to submit to a drug test and claiming a polygraph test she had taken previously that indicated cocaine use was a forgery. It was Chitwood and Post, who became a 1-2 punch in challenging the status quo in county government after they were sworn into elective office for the first time. 

Hesather Post / Headline SurferIntroduction on the veracity of ex-deputy turned elected officeholder Heather Post who is seeking a second four-year term in the 2020 Elections amid questions about her veracity: This multimedia reporting project is the culmination of more than two years of fact-based reporting, including the amassing of thousands of pages of public records and interviews with dozens of newsmakers. It should be noted that Heather Post refused to comment on the factual allegations, blocked this media outlet from commenting on her Facebook page (in violation of First Amendment rights, and worked behind the scenes to see to it that Headline Surfer's advertising agreement with the county was not renewed). The single most significant element of this investigative reporting project is Post blatantly lied to the voters on the eve of her 2016 campaign. That lie and Post's well-documented antagonistic tone on and off the county dais continues unabated.

Posted: 2020-04-29 - 01:02:32

"A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies." - Proverbs 14:5

By HENRY FREDERICK / Headline Surfer 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- From the way she mispronounced "unequivocally" in her denial to illicit narcotics use in a press conference on the eve of the 2016 Elections in her campaign for the district 4 seat on the Volusia County Council something about Heather Post was odd.

Post, an ex-deputy near the tail-end of an aborted law enforcement career was dogged by accusations of past illicit drug use -- to wit cocaine and marijuana -- in a high-profile campaign for political office, said the following in part in a press conference she called in Daytona on Oct. 29, less than two weeks before the general election: 

"The -- sorry I'm getting a little passionate now -- issue about drug use. I can tell you unequivocably [sic] I am not a crack head." That she badly mispronounced the word "unequivocally" is a testament to the fact she is a 10th-grade dropout, though she did later get her GED. 

But here's the prophetic part of her statement: Post lied. She lied through her teeth to a room full of reporters, her closest supporters and her husband and young grown daughter. 

A document Headline Surfer has uncovered since the 2016 election won by Post irrefutably shows she blatantly lied to the voters in her repeated denials to using drugs. 

The proverbial smoking gun was in a one page document among more than a thousand pages of documents with a nondescript title, but so very potent in proving Post lied. 

Post gas refused to even acknowledge the existence of the affidavit Headline Surfer uncovered and sent to her for comment and whether she was willing to come clean about it.

But that document was missed in a review of her personnel file by both the Daytona Beach News-Journal and by J. Hyatt Brown, an influential Daytona insider supporting her opponent's candidacy.

Post put on a show for the TV cameras and her statement of denial was carried to the voters. 

Heather Post lied / Headline Surfer InfographicBut Post's Academy-Award performance didn't end there. She turned the drug allegations around with a challenge to her campaign opponent, Al Smith, an on-air morning personality on WNDB AM Radio, to take a drug test.

She then looked straight into the cameras and boldly said, as she looked into the cameras: I would like to say, to ask Al here right now, let's ask Al."

After the Saturday morning press conference, Post emailed a press release to Headline Surfer, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, and the Orlando TV stations reiterating the drug challenge to Smith while stating a polygraph test summary in her personnel file with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office was an "obvious forgery."

First to the drug challenge: Post in her press release stated in calling him out: "We'll see which one of us is the real drug user."

Smith responded to Post's challenge by jokingly telling the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he wasn’t interested in getting into a “pissing contest” with her.

Smith then stated emphatically to the newspaper for its next-day Sunday print edition, "I don’t do drugs, but this isn’t about a drug test, this is about telling the truth.”

And indeed Smith was right about this not being about drug tests, but of telling the truth. 

What's unfortunate not only for Smith's campaign but far more important to the voters in district 4, is that the one document that would have validated Smith's claim as to the truth might have resulted in a different outcome as opposed to Post's election night win with 54 percent of the votes,

Admittedly, Headline Surfer was not as intricately involved in the Smith-Post race as the News-Journal was because it had to cover numerous other campaigns with only a fraction of the resources of the much larger operation of the daily newspaper.

It did not have the inside track with one of Smith's biggest campaign benefactors, J.Hyatt Brown, the billionaire insurance mogul with Brown and Brown and former Democratic Florida House speaker.

Brown pretty much laid the foundation for the News-Journal's coverage of the race with the development of large display advertisements highlighting Post's less-than-stellar career in law enforcement with documents that also showed her troubled background. 

Campaign Attack ad / Headline Surfer infographicThese were supplemented by documents the newspaper garnered through a series of public records requests summarized in a story published Oct. 28, 2016, under the headline, Cocaine use, work history targeted in county council race. Included in that story were the following summary allegations from the public records requests:

• In 1992, Dru Jean Frierson, Heather Post’s mother, had a restraining order granted against her daughter, Brevard County court records show. Frierson could not be reached for comment.

• In 1999, Post’s tenure with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office ended in resignation. Months earlier, she was removed from her role as a field training officer and placed back into her original job in a civilian capacity. She failed to complete the necessary FTO training and her supervisor stated that Post “demonstrated less than acceptable performance” in a number of areas, personnel records show.

• Also in 1999, Post was evicted from an apartment for the first time. It happened again at another apartment in 2001, court records show.

• In 2000, in a lie detector test Post took when she interviewed for a job with the Rockledge Police Department, she admitted to using cocaine and marijuana years earlier. She also admitted to driving under the influence “about 5 times.” Years later when Post applied for the Volusia Sheriff’s Office, a pre-employment investigation revealed that Post had used cocaine twice in 1987, according to records provided to The News-Journal.

• In 2003, when Post sought a job with the Edgewater Police Department, the agency’s pre-employment investigation found that Post received a contradicting evaluation when she worked with Florida Department of Children and Family Services. A supervisor with DCF stated that Post was “not very truthful at times or dependable and her work performance was poor,” records show. Still, Post left the DCF in good standing.

• In 2004, Post was reprimanded while working as an officer with the Edgewater Police Department for what her supervisor called “an unacceptable pattern” of tardiness and absenteeism, records show.

• In 2010, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson wrote that Post “demonstrated a lack of moral character” when he fired her from the agency for a failure to follow direct orders and lying during an internal affairs investigation and for making allegations of discrimination against her supervisor. Johnson eventually rescinded the termination and Post resigned from that department. In a settlement with the county, she eventually received a $44,000, records show.

Brady becomes Post / Headline Surfer infographicIt's easy to see why neither Brown nor the News-Journal discovered the affidavit in which Post acknowledged past drug use. Headline Surfer asked for and received the entirety of Post's personnel file two years after her re-election. And the fact that Post was legally Heather Brady when she signed the affidavit which was part of her VCSO application made it difficult to know that it was part of the file. 

It wouldn't be until well after the 2016 election that Headline Surfer - not satisfied that there might have been some documents overlooked, made its own public records request for the entire contents of Post's VCSO personnel file and eventually uncovered a single page document that was irrefutable proof Post had deliberately lied to the voters repeatedly in the closing weeks of the campaign.

From the very start of her four-year term on the dais, Post has been confrontational, antagonistic, and challenging the authority of the first-term County Chair Ed Kelley. It didn't take long for Post to form an alliance with Chitwood in targeting the county manager.

Before long, Dinneen found himself on the ropes trying to fend off allegations by Chitwood-Post that bodies piling up in the morgue during the height of the opioid crisis were due to mismanagement and poor leadership by the longtime county manager, seen for nearly a decade prior to that election cycle as an effective bureaucrat.

But from Headline Surfer's vantage point with its extensive coverage of cops and courts, a couple of things did not add up in laying the blame exclusively with Dinneen. 

First, Chitwood was woefully understaffed with as many as 50 to 70 sworn deputy vacancies. And as such, road deputy patrols were woefully inadequate and the VCSO was unable to keep pace with the increasing frequency of overdose deaths that were kept more in check in Seminole and Orange counties with far more deputies able to save the lives of addicts in distress by administering Narcan.

Second, Headline Surfer confronted Post as to why she had not pushed for consensus on the dais for hiring incentives to build up the road patrols, considering she was a former deputy and that her husband, Randy J. Post, was a senior deputy and firearms instructor. 

Heather Post refused to answer Headline Surfer's inquiries and cut off all communication, informing the award-winning internet news outlet that it was "fake news."

Chitwood was hostile banning Headline Surfer from his first press conference that immediately followed his Jan. 2, 2017 swearing-in ceremony. He also cut Headline Surfer off from the VCSO's email media alerts for breaking news, calling the award-winning journalist and publisher of the media outlet a "blogger."

The one-two punch of Chitwood-Post was buffered by a pair of bloggers who also went on the offensive against Dinneen: Mark Barker, a retired Holly Hill police chief, with his blog, "Barker's View," and David Lee Davis, whose word press formatted blog was untitled. Post and Chitwood had another media ally in WNDB afternoon radio personality Marc Bernier. 

But after combing through the entirety of the VCSO file on Post, Headline Surfer knew it uncovered the proverbial "smoking gun" which was irrefutable proof that Post had lied to the voters and with enough drama to win the election.

POSTSCRIPT on 2020 Election

Editor's note (added Nov. 15, 2020): Heather Post won re-election in the District 4 County Council race (greater Ormond Beach) in the 2020 election, defeating challenger Barbara Bonarigo, 31,093 to 22,026, or 58.53 percent of the overall votes. Bonarrigo did not mount a strong challenge and was weak on specifics regarding the issues. The challenger did not know how to respond to the issue of Post's veracity with past illicit drug use and never mentioned it publicly in the campaign. 

Henry Frederick bio / Headline SurferAbout the Byline Writer: Henry Frederick is the publisher of Headline Surfer, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet launched 12 years ago that serves greater Daytona Beach, Sanford & Orlando, Florida via Frederick has amassed more than a hundred journalism industry awards in print & online -- more than all other members of the working press combined in Central Florida since the mid-1990s. He earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in 2019. Having witnessed the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Florida's death chamber and other high profile cases, Frederick has appeared on national crime documentary cable channels such as Discovery ID and Reelz for his investigative reporting and high profile cops & courts breaking news stories.
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