Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flexes executive power, suspends another Democratic state attorney

 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has suspended Monique Worrell, the state attorney for the Orlando area, accusing her of neglecting her duties. Worrell, a Democrat, was removed from her position as the chief prosecutor for Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit Court during a press conference in Tallahassee. This marks the second time in a year that DeSantis has suspended an elected Democrat from office. DeSantis claimed that by refusing to enforce Florida's laws, Worrell puts communities at risk and victimizes innocent people. Worrell described the move as a "political attack" by a "weak dictator." The governor's action followed the shooting and injury of two police officers during a traffic stop in Orlando. The local police union accused Worrell of being lenient on crime, a claim supported by DeSantis. Worrell defended her office's actions, asserting that she upholds the law and does not determine who is released on bond. Elected in 2020, Worrell signed a pledge in June 2021 stating that prosecutors would avoid criminalizing individuals seeking gender-affirming care. DeSantis has increasingly focused on Worrell since a shooting in Orlando resulted in three deaths. The suspect had previously been arrested on a dismissed weapons charge. Families of the victims have defended Worrell and criticized DeSantis for exploiting the situation for political gain. Last August, DeSantis suspended another elected state attorney, Andrew Warren, after a brief investigation.

DeSantis was displeased that Warren had signed the pledge, along with a separate statement vowing not to use resources to pursue cases against women who have abortions and doctors who perform them. DeSantis referred to these actions as "liberal" and labeled them a "plague" that he would not allow to spread in Florida.

Warren filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, and although a U.S. District Court judge agreed that DeSantis had violated the state's constitution and Warren's First Amendment rights by suspending him, the judge ruled that he could not intervene in a state matter.

Two weeks after his suspension, Warren filed a lawsuit in federal court against DeSantis, alleging "retaliation" and asserting that his First Amendment rights had been violated. Earlier this year, a federal district judge determined that DeSantis had indeed violated Warren's First Amendment rights and the Florida Constitution.

However, the judge stated that the court did not have the authority to reinstate Warren as state attorney.

Shortly after Worrell's suspension, Warren released a statement criticizing DeSantis.

"This is yet another unlawful and unconstitutional assault on democracy by a small, fearful man who is desperate to salvage his political career," Warren said. "He wants to act like a tyrant, but he is truly a timid individual who consistently disregards the principles of justice and the desires of the voters to hide himself."

Democratic state lawmakers condemned the suspension. Congressman Maxwell Frost, who represents Orlando, alleged that DeSantis had been trying to build a case against Worrell for months but took action now because "his presidential campaign is failing."

State Rep. Rita Harris (D-Orlando) called it a "blatant abuse of power" aimed at the only Black female state attorney in Florida.

On Wednesday, DeSantis appointed Andrew A. Bain, an Orlando judge, to replace Worrell. DeSantis and other officials left after their press conference without fielding questions.

During the news conference, Bain stated that he would strive to "reestablish trust in the law, restore public confidence," while Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd praised DeSantis's decision and declared, "none of this would have been possible if we didn't have a governor, Governor DeSantis, who said, 'I will do what is right.'"

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, alleged that Worrell had dismissed or declined to file charges at a higher rate than any other state attorney in Florida. She also pointed out Democratic officials in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties who she claimed had much lower rates of dismissing or abstaining from filing charges. As a candidate who emphasizes being tough on crime during his presidential campaign, DeSantis frequently mentions his suspension of Warren in his speeches.

"I removed him from his position, and we ensured the enforcement of law in the state of Florida," he declared to applause at a barn in Tama, Iowa on Saturday.

DeSantis is currently lagging far behind former president Donald Trump in the GOP primary. The suspension of Worrell, initially reported by Fox News, will give DeSantis another opportunity to showcase to voters that he has been more daring than other Republican leaders in taking bold actions to achieve conservative goals.

His struggling presidential campaign has faced numerous changes, and this week campaign officials announced that James Uthmeier, DeSantis's chief of staff in the governor's office, would take a "leave of absence" to become campaign manager. Uthmeier played a significant role in DeSantis's decision to suspend Warren.

Mateen Faris
By : Mateen Faris
Mateen Faris is a professional journalist since 2011, a media graduate from Iraq University, a technology expert, a media consultant and a member of the International Organization of Journalists - a member of the fact-checking team at Meta Company. He writes in the fields of entertainment, art, science and technology, and believes that the pen can change everything.
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