TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It was all caught on camera: a man in flip flops, using a chainsaw to cut down Jason Paynter's campaign sign. Paynter said it's happened two other times in the same place.
“For the third time,” Paynter said, “we knew we were gonna put it back on the same piece of property, I put game cameras up.”
Deputies said it was Robert Moore making mincemeat out of the signs. Moore admitted it when reporters showed up at the scene, where he was already talking with deputies.
“Nothing personal against the candidate,” Moore said, “I actually voted for him. He just never contacted to put it on private property.”
Paynter, who is running for clerk of courts and comptroller, said he didn’t know what to make of it. “With the signs, with the chainsaw and then voting for me? I guess I'm thankful for that?”
Paynter says he had permission from a neighbor to put the sign there. Deputies said it wasn’t clear whether the property was Moore's or the neighbor's.
“A lot of unique set of circumstances, so we'll refer it to the State Attorney's Office and let them make the call,” said Lt. John Herrell, with the Lake County Sheriff's Office
Even Paynter's opponent in the race, Gary Cooney, says there had to have been a better way. “I know how difficult that is,” he said, “I know how much those signs cost. For someone to do something like that to someone who puts himself out there to run for office is despicable.”
Deputies say they're going to wait for a ruling from the state attorney's office before deciding whether to charge Moore, or not.