Destin Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell is suspended from office four weeks after felony arrest

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN — Nearly four weeks after she was arrested for official misconduct, battery on a law enforcement officer and a violation of Florida's Sunshine Law, Destin City Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell has been suspended from office.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Thursday to make the suspension official.

"It is in the best interests of the residents of the City of Destin and the citizens of the State of Florida, that Prebble Quinn Ramswell be immediately suspended from the public office which she now holds," Executive Order No. 21-239 said.

Destin City Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell abstained from voting on the the Pointe Mezzanine docking facility on Holiday Isle. The project came before the council days after Ramswell was arrested for not turning over records of phone conversations she had with a resident about the project. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended Ramswell from office.

Arrest follow:Report: Search of Destin councilwoman's home related to Pointe Mezzanine records violation

More: Ramswell update: City councilwoman attends first meeting since arrest, abstains from voting

Ramswell was arrested Oct. 8 as officials attempted to serve a search warrant to locate messages sent from her private phone to local activist Gene Earley. The conversations were related to a controversial plan to build a docking facility at the Pointe Mezzanine condominium complex on Holiday Isle.

The First Judicial Circuit's State Attorney's Office alleges Ramswell failed to turn over copies of her conversations to Destin city officials so that it could legally respond to a public records request.

In December 2020, Pointe Mezzanine LLC, which lists Robert Guidry as its managing partner, filed a lawsuit against Earley seeking damages for his "repeated and ongoing disparagement of Pointe Mezzanine LLC and Pointe Resort LLC." That litigation is still pending.

Prebble Ramswell, City of Destin Councilmember .

The affidavit states that in the communications Ramswell declined to turn over to the city, she and Earley discussed "specific issues" relating to the zoning, permitting and development of the docking facility Pointe Mezzanine was seeking approval to build.

Joe Winkeler, listed as a development consultant to Pointe Mezzanine owner Robert Guidry, took the complaint of a possible Sunshine Law violation to the State Attorney's Office in June after the documents were provided by Earley during the discovery process in the case against him. 

"Prebble Ramswell did knowingly, willingly and intentionally conceal numerous public records from the city, which caused unlawful harm to others, thereby committing the crimes of official misconduct," according to the State Attorney's Office affidavit bringing charges against her. 

Official misconduct is a felony. A violation of the Sunshine Law is a misdemeanor. 

According to her arrest report, Ramswell committed battery upon officers in her home when she delivered a "horse kick" that struck an investigator in the "lower back and rear end." Battery on a law enforcement officer is a felony. She was also charged with obstruction of an officer, which is a misdemeanor. 

The arrest came just days before the City Council was asked to vote on the Pointe Mezzanine dock project. Council members approved the project with Ramswell, who had spoken in opposition, abstaining under orders from her attorney, Christopher Klotz.. 

A spokesperson for the governor said shortly after Ramswell's arrest that a suspension appeared imminent. 

The executive order filed Thursday states Ramswell's suspension from office is to take effect immediately.

"Prebble Quinn Ramswell is prohibited from performing any official act, duty, or function of public office; from receiving any pay or allowance; and from being entitled to any of the emoluments or privileges of public office during the period of this suspension, which period shall be from today, until further Executive Order is issued, or as otherwise provided by law," the executive order said.