DeSantis Suspends Hillsborough State Attorney

DeSantis Suspends Hillsborough State Attorney

By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Saying that a twice-elected Hillsborough County prosecutor has put himself “above the law,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren for pledging to not enforce Florida’s 15-week restriction on abortion.

DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County judge Susan Lopez to take Warren’s place during his period of suspension.

Flanked by law enforcement officials from around the Tampa Bay area, DeSantis held a press conference Thursday to announce Warren’s suspension effective immediately.

The governor said he will pursue Warren’s eventual removal from office, an issue that would have to go before the Republican-controlled state Senate.

“The conduct that he has done has fell below the standard that’s required in the Florida Constitution. When you’re saying you’re not going to enforce certain laws you don’t like, that’s a neglect of duty. That, quite frankly, is incompetence as defined in Florida law,” DeSantis said.

Warren, a Democrat, lashed out at DeSantis on Thursday, accusing the governor of overstepping his authority.

“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. It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis,” Warren said in a prepared statement. “In our community, crime is low, our Constitutional rights — including the right to privacy — are being upheld, and the people have the right to elect their own leaders — not have them dictated by an aspiring presidential candidate who has shown time and again he feels accountable to no one.”

Warren, who was first elected as state attorney for Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in 2016, recently signed a joint letter promising to avoid prosecuting people for providing or seeking abortions. The letter was published in June by the organization Fair and Just Prosecution, which bills itself as bringing together elected local prosecutors to promote “a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility.”

Warren signed the letter along with more than 90 prosecutors from various states, some of which have enacted limitations on abortion similar to the Florida measure. The Florida Legislature passed the 15-week abortion restriction this spring, and DeSantis signed it in April. Providers could face third-degree felony charges for breaking the law.

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions,” the June 24 letter said. “As such, we decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”

DeSantis also targeted Warren for joining a separate letter “condemning the criminalization of transgender people and gender-affirming healthcare” that was published by the organization Fair and Just Prosecution a year ago. The letter also was signed by Monique Worrell, state attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit.

DeSantis’ administration recently ratcheted up pressure on medical providers who provide puberty-blocking medication and hormone therapy for transgender people. The State Board of Medicine is set to consider a proposal, backed by the Florida Department of Health, that would ban doctors from using the treatments for transgender youths.

“That’s a debate that we’re having mostly administratively and through medical licensing in Florida. But other states have enacted penalties on the people who would perform those, which are really disfiguring these young kids. And (Warren) said it doesn’t matter what the Legislature does in the state of Florida, he’s going to exercise a veto over that,” the governor said Thursday.

The state Constitution allows the governor to remove an elected official from office for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence” and the inability to perform their official duties. 

DeSantis’ action drew harsh criticism from Democrats Thursday. 

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat who is in line become House minority leader after the November elections, slammed DeSantis for what she called his “interference” in the prosecutor’s office.

“I’m not going to mince words: this is a shocking political attack on an elected official serving the people of Hillsborough County. Andrew Warren is being removed because he assured our community that he will not be a foot soldier in Ron DeSantis’ extremist agenda,” Driskell said in a statement.

State Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, decried Warren’s suspension as being part of “attacks on women,” calling DeSantis “extreme” and “unhinged” in a tweet.

“Andrew Warren has served our community with dignity and respect and to suspend him because he won’t criminalize a women’s right to choose (is) unconscionable. Shame on you Governor, may the women in this state speak out this November,” Cruz wrote.

DeSantis invited Tampa-area law enforcement officials at Thursday’s press conference to air their grievances about Warren. Their comments revealed a longstanding rift between the prosecutor and police.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister accused Warren of having been too lenient on crime.

“Over the last several years, State Attorney Warren has acted as an adjudicator of all, as if some type of supreme authority, by reducing charges, dropping cases, and single-handedly determining what crimes will be legal or illegal in our county,” Chronister said.

Former Tampa police chief Brian Dugan, who retired last year, called Warren a “fraud” and criticized Warren for not prosecuting 67 Tampa protesters who were arrested for unlawful assembly during demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in 2020.

Lopez, Warren’s replacement, said Thursday that she got a call from DeSantis “a couple of days ago” letting her know that she would be installed as state attorney. 

“It is my promise to the people of Hillsborough County that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office and to ensure that we are fulfilling its purpose to prosecute crimes and protect the people” of the county, Lopez said.

Meanwhile, Warren’s suspension became the most recent cudgel that the Democrats who are vying to replace DeSantis are using against the governor.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called Warren’s suspension a “politically motivated attack on a universally respected” elected state attorney.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat, condemned DeSantis’ action as “that of a wannabe dictator who puts partisan politics first.”

15 Responses to "DeSantis Suspends Hillsborough State Attorney"

  1. Yeah, so, DeSantis has the nerve to call the actual federal government a “banana republic” while he persecutes people over laws that are not enforceable and because the actual federal government is coming down on his wannabe dictator friend for committing actual federal crimes like destroying federal records, citing insurrections and trying to thwart fair elections.

    Wow. THAT’S banana republic stuff.

    You always know what the Republicans are up to because it’s what they accuse everyone else of doing.

    Vote Crist if you miss sanity in our state government.

  2. YUP…all the fake Christians rejoice…ur fake god trump is there for u … Please PRAY HARD FOR UR IGNORANT GOVERNOR

  3. @ Barb:
    I dont know what is involved with “born female” gender affirmation surgery but let me share what “born male” gender affirmation surgery involves.
    First they remove the “twig and berries” then they carve into the gender bender what will be used sexually as a vagina. Those that have had such male to female gender affirmation surgery commonally reference the carved in “vagina” as “the wound”.
    Now “the wound” behaves like any other wound in our bodies in the respect that it is constantly trying to heal itself. So to prevent “the wound” from basically closing up through the natural healing process the former male must sleep each and every night with a penis shaped device secured somehow inside “the wound” in an effort to prevent the bodies natural healing process. For you ladies out there that have stopped using an ear piercing and had it close up you know what I described above to be true.
    These gender affirmation surgeries are not reversable and as the years roll by many commit suicide likely due to “mutilation regret”. And to think local school boards and teachers are pushing gender affirmation just makes those of us with common sense sick knowing that they know all I described above yet still push it into young impressionable minds.

  4. Since any murder is a sin, …… or any disobedient son shall be stoned…..
    Oddly the states that promote ten commandments have highest percentage of outof wedlock mothers, rate of teenage pregnancy, the highest firearms mortality according to CDC.

    The reason why we need Jesus He died for all my sin, not just one single sin to show pride and religion.

  5. Todd,

    Christ established law – it’s called the Ten Commandments. He expected all of His children to abide by those laws. And yes, that little thing called the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shall not kill”) includes the senseless murdering of babies, something your Tampa hero encouraged.

    I don’t pretend to be Christ-like, only forgiven. If you’re going to invoke the name of God in conversation, at least know your facts. Start with the Bible.

  6. tODD,

    Praying for you… and we would not wish even you go to Iran since there is a Department of State travel advisory: Do not travel to Iran.

    Have a Blessed day!

  7. Hey ..glad u Christ like people are setting such a good example of how to lead a good life… I guess Iran would be a better place for u to live…

  8. That’s what a leader does, he leads!
    Thank you Governor DeSantis!

    Now voters must take responsibility and vote intelligently. We Are One vote away to making great strides from our elected officials being beholden to special interests.

    Vote for the conservative, don’t vote for any incumbent who voted for the $27 million Doak giveaway and do your homework. Vote in person if you are able, give thanks and PRAY.

  9. We are a nation of laws, not a nation of men. This guy in Tampa was obligated to uphold laws, not to be an activist for BLM or Planned Parenthood. Perhaps this is a blueprint to bring sanity back to justice. Thank you Governor!

  10. Dereliction of Duty, affirming ones’ Oath of Office with fingers crossed behind ones’ back, refusing to uphold our laws, dismissing our Constitution, embracing and supporting criminality, and seeking the downfall of our Republic… is the very foundation of the new ACP (American Communist Party) – formerly known as the Democrat Party. As China has its CCP, so do we have our ACP.

    This has been their plan all along… launched under President Obama, stymied by President Trump, and rekindled with the installation of Resident Biden. Save for a full-blown revolution, a Convention of States is the only hope we have to save what’s left of our once Great Republic.

    May God Bless and Protect us all.

  11. I believe he is a George Soros state attorney – good riddance.

    I wish Democrats would stop claiming that they speak for women. They most certainly do not; they speak for themselves. They need to quit hiding behind “women” and they need to quit hiding behind euphemisms like the ones quoted below from this article. If they are too embarrassed and sickened to even say what they are talking about, then they shouldn’t be advocating these horrors.

    “personal medical decisions” – abortions
    “reproductive health decisions” – abortions
    “right to choose” – abortions
    “gender-affirming healthcare” – castrations and mastectomies for adolescents

  12. Love Ron Desantis ! Sorry folks we are not gonna let ANYONE ! Turn Florida into a turd pit like New York and California and all the other Democrat run States.If you want to live like that then move to them states and all the people with money who support all the b…sh_t it’s funny you care for the homeless and want open borders BUT You don’t want them people sleeping in your parks or your neighborhood.

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