The role of an Apopka City Council member brings with it a certain amount of criticism. Just take a look at Apopka's social media pages or public comments during meetings, and you'll quickly see multiple examples. It's part of the job, although not listed in the Apopka City Charter in the description.
But are critical or threatening text messages sent directly to commissioners crossing a line? What if they are from a local banker who has business with the City of Apopka?
In researching the details of an article about a letter to the editor from David Rankin to The Apopka Chief attacking Commissioners Kyle Becker, Nick Nesta, and Diane Velazquez, The Apopka Voice has learned that Rankin also sent text messages to at least two commissioners with insulting and arguably threatening innuendo.
Rankin is the Vice President of One Florida Bank in Apopka and a Commercial Banking Director, according to the One Florida Bank website. One Florida Bank in Apopka has held millions of dollars of City reserves. The Apopka branch launched in 2019.
At an August 16th City Council meeting, Nesta called for a forensic audit of City financial documents, which would include transfers to One Florida Bank. Rankin responded with a scathing text sent directly to Nesta, which was obtained by The Apopka Voice in a public records request.
"What discrepancies? What inconsistencies? What inaccuracies? You keep calling for a "forensic audit" but you can`t/won`t let the public know what it is that you want audited. I submit that this is nothing more than a fishing expedition cooked up by your "advisors" who conveniently have you to do their bidding for petty political purposes. It`s past time put up or shut up and I for one welcome an audit, so let`s get on with it! But you need to be careful of what you wish for because on at least two separate occasions, you said "I hope that I`m completely wrong". If an audit shows that you are wrong which is likely, then it will confirm what I`ve known for several months that you are an empty suit. Be sure to share this with our pals Richard Anderson, Bob Ryan and that fool in Boston.
"Good Morning Chief McKinley:
The morning following the City of Apopka, August 16, 2023, 7 pm City Council meeting where I advocated for a forensic audit of the City of Apopka finances, I was threatened yet again on August 17, 2023 at 9:05am.
Please allow this email to serve as my official notification of the latest threat I received now via text message and signed with the closing signature/name David Rankin from a phone number I was unfamiliar with.
I will be adding this recent bold, brazen & blatant threat, harassment, bullying, and intimidation tactic to my complaint packet under review by other entities.
I remain in fear for my life and my safety and that of my family as I carry out my duties as Apopka City Commissioner on behalf of the people."
Rankin's text was deemed not legally threatening by the APD.
"The message doesn`t appear to have a clear threat against Commissioner Nesta or his family," wrote Mark Creader, the APD officer assigned to the complaint. "The message appears to relate to city politics. According to Commissioner Nesta, this is the first message received from this number, which was confirmed to be David Rankin. There is no repetitive action at this time. This incident will be documented and further discussed with Apopka legal."
But it wasn't the first text Rankin sent to a city commissioner.
Back in May, after the Apopka Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, Rankin sent a text to Becker, warning him to be mindful of his actions.
"At this morning's prayer breakfast, Pastor Darrell Morgan gave a very profound and compelling prayer for the City of Apopka, it's employees, elected officials and citizens. Unfortunately, one of the one's who needed to hear it the most was not in attendance. God is watching and God is listening. What goes around, comes around so you need to be mindful. Have a good day."
At the prayer breakfast, Morgan prayed for Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson and against those who are 'here to cause trouble'.
"I would like to pray over Mayor Bryan Nelson and his wife," Morgan said. We believe you set him in the office of mayor to watch over the affairs of our city," Morgan said.
Although he did not pray directly for city commissioners, Morgan did make several references to leaders in the community and about the state of Apopka.
"I am also aware that not everyone has the best interest of the city at heart. I believe our mayor, Bryan Nelson, does. I pray today, according to Isaiah 54:17, that no weapon formed against the city of Apopka shall prosper, and every tongue which rises in judgment against it we shall condemn. I pray you would remove all men and women who do not have the best interest of the city and people from seats of authority. I pray the people of the city would heed you and vote out all special interest groups, people without moral character, and those who are here to cause trouble."
The Apopka Voice attempted to reach out to Rankin for a response by text message but did not receive a reply.
This is a developing story and may be updated if more details are learned.