BRADENTON — Copies of text messages from a commissioner’s cell phone are providing a glimpse into the background politics following the mid-April attempt by some Manatee County Commissioners to appoint a new board chairman.
During an April 18 BOCC meeting, Commissioner Jason Bearden unexpectedly motioned to remove Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge as the board’s chairman and to reappoint Commissioner Vanessa Baugh to the role. Baugh had previously served in the role the year prior to Van Ostenbridge receiving the appointment.
Commissioner James Satcher provided the “second” in support of Bearden's motion, bringing it to a vote.
The motion passed 4-3, with Commissioners Amanda Ballard, Bearden, Satcher, and Baugh herself voting in favor of the chairmanship change.
However, days later on April 20, another unexpected event unfolded when Ballard flipped her vote from earlier that week, effectively reinstalling Van Ostenbridge as chairman.
The April 18 vote to remove Van Ostenbridge from the chairman position and to place Baugh in the role was held just after 4 pm. Following the board’s vote, Baugh—who had assumed the gavel following the vote—called for a ten-minute recess.
After the meeting resumed following the recess, Van Ostenbridge did not immediately return to the dais, and instead he rejoined the meeting 5-10 minutes after it had reconvened.
Text records show that at 4:27 pm on April 18, roughly a half hour after the board held the vote that removed Van Ostenbridge as chairman, Anthony Pedicini began texting Commissioner Baugh. The commission meeting had not yet adjourned for the day.
Pedicini is a Tampa-based political operative/consultant who represented each of the board’s current seven commissioners during their most recent campaigns—including Commissioner Baugh. Pedicini represented Commissioners Baugh, Kruse, Satcher, and Van Ostenbridge during their 2020 elections, and he represented Rahn, Ballard, and Bearden in 2022.
Pedicini goes on to refer to Baugh as “untrustworthy” and “treacherous” in the April 18 correspondence.
Earlier this month, TBT reported that text messages previously obtained by our publication had revealed that Pedicini had also sent text messages to Commissioners Bearden and Satcher the day of the April 18 meeting where Van Ostenbridge was removed as chair.
Though our previous report was focused on text records that appeared to show that Pedicini was instructing commissioners on citizen committee appointments, there were additional messages from Pedicini to the commissioners that revealed he had texted with them on various occasions and topics.
On April 18, at 5:07 p.m. Pedicini texted Bearden, "Please call me after the meeting."
Pedicini also texted Satcher on April 18. At approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening, "Call me when you can. Can’t wait to download about the meeting."
Satcher responded, texting back, "At a kid's band concert, will call later."
Pedicini then texted again, adding, "Copy. Everyone is absolutely blowing up mad."
Click here to view text message records obtained by TBT between Commissioner Bearden and Pedicini. Click here to view the text message records between Satcher and Pedicini.
To replay the chair position motion, board discussion, and vote from the April 18 BOCC Special Meeting, click the video below.
Click here to watch the moment from the April 20 BOCC Land Use meeting where Ballard motioned to reinstall Van Ostenbridge as chairman.
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