In a bold executive move cheered by conservatives everywhere, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, citing the latter’s explicit refusal to enforce state laws with which he disagrees, as the Tampa Bay Times reports.
DeSantis announced his decision at a news conference at which he was joined by law enforcement officers from the greater Tampa Bay area, explaining that Warren had “put himself publicly above the law” when he said in writing that he would decline to prosecute those who run afoul of laws restricting gender-affirming procedures for minors or those who violate legal limits on abortion.
“When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have neglected your duty and you are displaying a lack of competence to be able to perform those duties,” DeSantis said, according to The Hill.
DeSantis added that because Warren had conducted himself as though he had “veto power” over Florida’s legislature, he was invoking the authority to suspend a state officer granted by Article IV, Section 7 of the state constitution.
That provision declares that “the governor may suspend from office…any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension,” which DeSantis did by tapping Judge Susan Lopez to take Warren’s place.
The governor indicated that Warren’s suspension came after he began observing the phenomenon of far-left progressive prosecutors in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago deciding for themselves which categories of crimes they would and would not prosecute, and he asked staffers to probe whether similar issues were occurring in Florida – investigations that kept leading back to Hillsborough County.
“And the response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted,” DeSantis said on Thursday.
Apparently defiant and undeterred, Warren on Friday asserted that he is still employed and that the governor lacks the authority to oust him, declaring, according to the New York Post, “the people elected me to serve in this position and I am going to continue doing it to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
The DeSantis camp, however, saw things rather differently, with spokesperson Chrisina Pushaw on Friday labeling Warren as “delusional” and adding, “Andrew Warren tells the media that he is still the State Attorney because he identifies as a State Attorney. Sorry but that doesn’t fly here… . His badge won’t even work to access his former office today.”