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Thursday, August 11, 2022

DeSantis suspends Tampa prosecutor for taking stand against criminalizing abortion providers

(CNN) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended Tampa District Attorney-elect Andrew Warren for pledging not to use his office to go against people seeking abortions or doctors providing gender-affirming care to women. done. Transgender people.

DeSantis also accused Warren of failing to pursue criminals to the fullest extent of his powers as Hillsborough County States Attorney.

“It’s impossible to take the position that they have veto powers over state laws,” DeSantis told a news conference in Tampa, surrounded by law enforcement.

A Republican, DeSantis’ move to oust a twice-elected Democrat from Hillsboro voters drew immediate and strong rebuke from Democratic lawmakers and state officials. Minority Leader Senator Lauren Book said DeSantis was “behaving more like a dictator than a governor of the United States.” And Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, called Warren’s suspension “a politically motivated attack on a state attorney universally respected and democratically elected to exercise the prosecutor’s discretion.” “

“Ron DeSantis is a pathetic bully,” Fried said.

A spokesman for Warren did not immediately respond to a request for comment. His office earlier canceled a press conference scheduled for 3 pm.

DeSantis said the decision to suspend Warren came after he directed employees to review whether Florida state attorneys “have been tasked with determining which laws they prefer and are going to enforce.” Prosecutors in other states refused to press charges for certain crimes. , That review led them to Warren, who has become a strong advocate for criminal justice reform and overturning wrongful convictions.

“The governor shouldn’t have come to Hillsborough County to clean up our mess,” former Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference. “That’s what really boils down to.”

Under Florida law, a governor can remove “any officer of the county” for wrongful acts, misconduct, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incapacity, permanent inability to perform official duties, or the commission of a crime. The Florida Senate has the power to reinstate or remove the suspended officer.

DeSantis named Susan Lopez to serve as state attorney during Warren’s suspension. He previously appointed Lopez as a circuit judge in Hillsborough County. DeSantis told reporters he did not speak to Warren prior to the announcement.

Warren was first elected state attorney in 2016, defeating a longtime Republican incumbent in a close race that had predicted Florida’s county move to the left. He was re-elected in 2020, winning a higher percentage of the vote in Hillsborough County than President Joe Biden.

During his first few years in office, Warren kept a relatively low profile, quietly modernizing the office and embracing criminal justice reforms. In 2018, he supported the re-election campaign of Republican County Sheriff-elect Chad Chronister, who frequently held news conferences with law enforcement. In turn, Chronister praised Warren in the months leading up to the Democrat’s campaign for a second term.

But Chronister hosted Thursday’s press conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and sharply criticized Warren while standing next to DeSantis. (Chronister’s wife, Nicole DeBartolo, and her father-in-law, Edward DeBartolo, a former NFL owner who was granted a presidential pardon by Donald Trump, have donated a total of $472,000 to DeSantis’s re-election campaign.)

Warren began to criticize DeSantis during the pandemic. Early in the coronavirus outbreak, he publicly criticized the governor’s decision to allow megachurches to operate in Florida, days after the arrest of a Tampa pastor who had not attended Mass in person. disobeyed the mandate. Later that summer, Warren announced that he would not prosecute the 67 people arrested in a protest following the death of George Floyd.

But it was Warren’s entry into the country’s political divide over transgender care and abortion that prompted DeSantis’ action on Thursday. Last year, Warren joined dozens of state and local prosecutors in signing a letter drafted by the progressive organization Fair and Just Prosecution, condemning laws that limit doctors providing gender-affirming care to transgender people. commit criminalization. After the US Supreme Court voted to strike Roe Vs. Raised and abolished constitutional protections for abortion, Warren signs another Justice and Equity letter not to use the “limited resources of the criminal legal system” to persecute those who request, provide, or support abortion. promises to do.

The abortion situation put Warren at odds with a new state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks in Florida. DeSantis, who last year banned girls and transgender women from participating in school sports as a woman, has also taken steps to ban gender-affirming care for minors, which she described Thursday as “really small.” Cutting off private parts of children”.

“They are really, I think, cocky and, again, it goes beyond just exercising discretion,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has used his power to remove some elected officials more than his predecessors. In his first acts as governor, DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who oversaw the police response to the deadly mass shooting at Parkland High School.

World Nation News Desk
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