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FDLE admits missteps in sending agent to liberal blogger's home

Daniel Tilson, a liberal South Florida blogger, was just trying to be funny and witty at Gov. Rick Scott's expense.

Tilson thought Scott's two-day roll-out of a tax cut calaulator in the Capitol last week was so fanciful, he likened it to the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, a song that contains the lyric: "They're coming to take you away, coming to take you away." The laughing suddenly stopped when a special agent from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Miami office knocked on the door of Tilson's house in Boca Raton last week to ask him some questions.

Tilson wasn't home at the time, and he later had a five-minute phone conversation with the agent. His first-person account of the incident on the blog Context Florida ignited a social media firestorm. On Monday, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen conceded his agency overreacted.

The following is the complete FDLE statement:

"On March 27, an FDLE analyst from our Fort Myers region came across the blog post, 'Coming to take you away, take you away ... #Rick Scott.' The analyst passed the information on to her supervisor, who forwarded it to FDLE's Miami region. The Miami region asked an FDLE special agent to speak with Mr. Tilson to determine whether the post was merely referending a song or something more. Following their conversation, the matter was closed.

"FDLE agents will always err on the side of caution when judging the context of a blog, email or other posting. However, Commissioner Swearingen is reviewing the incident and believes FDLE could have better evaluated the post and is speaking to all regions to ensure better coordination in the future."

Among the lingering questions are these: Don't FDLE agents have more pressing matters during working hours than to comb through Facebook posts looking for disparaging remarks about Rick Scott? Why didn't FDLE's Miami office immediately alert the FDLE protective operations people who guard Scott at all times?

Did somebody in Scott's office tip off FDLE to the post and demand that Tilson be investigated?

Scott's office initially wouldn't say. "I would refer you to FDLE," Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said. In a second conversation, she said: "Absolutely not."

FDLE has not identified the analyst who set in motion this parody of professional law enforcement, which surfaces at a time when Swearingen is still working to establish his independence from the governor who put him in charge of FDLE in December -- unilaterally and possiblys illegally. 

Tilson, 57, runs a Boca Raton video production business and has nearly 5,000 followers on Facebook. He described the "creepiness" of a cop knocking on his door over a Facebook posting, and described the reaction from Facebook followers: "It's scaring people."

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