Is Gov. Ron DeSantis sending message to all Florida prosecutors?

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday he is suspending a state attorney from Hillsborough County for not agreeing to enforce certain laws, including abortion laws.

Removing an elected official is no small matter and there are some shockwaves over the announcement, and some are suggesting he's sending a message to all of Florida's prosecutors.

"The prosecutor, state attorney for this judicial circuit — Andrew Warren — has put himself above the law," DeSantis said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cited Warren's neglect of duty and incompetence over his public pledges not to prosecute anyone over gender medical care for minors or enforcing abortion laws

"In Florida, courts have been very clear that saying you're just not going to enforce the law is by definition a dereliction of duty and so ... in some respects, I have to do this," DeSantis said. "That's my job to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed."

The governor made it clear he has the power to do this — unseating an elected public official.

"He's discovered that playing the strong man, playing the hard-nosed governor, plays well to his base," said Charles Zelden, a professor of political science at Nova Southeastern University.

It would seem the governor is also sending a message to other prosecutors.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he's turned down requests to make public pledges on not prosecuting certain cases and admits in Florida it can rile the governor.

"I think that whenever a prosecutor makes a blanket statement they’re not going to prosecute a crime — no matter the facts or circumstances — I think it puts that prosecutor in jeopardy," Aronberg said.

Aronberg said that's why he's taking the position of evaluating all cases in his office on a case-by-case by basis.

"Today's political stunt is an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition," Warren said in a tweet. "It spits in the face of voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve *them*, not Ron DeSantis."

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