August 4, 2022 Updated 4:17 P.M. ET
TAMPA (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit for failing to prosecute certain crimes and vowing not to enforce certain abortion laws or potential laws related to sex change operations.
“State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis said.
The governor called Warren’s record “troubling” and pointed to a letters he signed promising not to enforce laws related to abortions and saying he would not enforce potential bans on sex change operations for minors.
“Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” DeSantis explained. “He said it doesn’t matter what the state legislature does in Florida, he’s going to exercise a veto over that.”
Warren has implemented policies of “presumptive non-enforcement,” which DeSantis said is not consistent with the role of a prosecutor.
“Yes, you can exercise discretion in an individual case, but that discretion has to be individualized and case specific. You can’t just say that you’re not going to do a certain offenses,” he said.
Warren responded by calling the move a “political stunt.”
“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.
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, slammed Warren and other prosecutors for being “backed by Soros” and refusing to “enforce laws across the country.”
“But [DeSantis] won’t stand for this. He just suspended one in Florida.”
When the Tampa Bay Times asked Warren if George Soros helped fund his campaign, Warren replied, “We think so.”
“We understand that he gave money to the state (Democratic) party. And the state party money … went to support different candidates. And I have very little insight into the amount of money he gave, who it went to, etc.”
The governor appointed Susan Lopez to serve as State Attorney for the period of suspension. She has most recently been serving as a Judge on the Hillsborough County Court.
DeSantis’ office conducted a statewide review to see if other prosecutors were taking it “upon themselves” to determine what laws they like and will enforce similar to cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. The administration spoke with law enforcement officials and prosecutors throughout the state.
“And it all came back to this area here, the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County,” DeSantis said. “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.”
The governor has the authority under the Florida Constitution to suspend state officials for reasons of misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Warren has acted like a “supreme authority” by reducing charges, dropping cases, and “single handedly” determining which crimes will be illegal and legal in the county.
“Ask yourself, aren’t these the decisions for our courts or a jury of our peers?” Chronister said.
Chronister pointed to an “egregious” example last year where a suspect, after shooting someone, opened fire on a residence where the victim was hiding. There were children and family members also in the house where the victim took refuge.
The suspect was arrested and later released from jail where he was caught and arrested again for a burglary. Chronister said while in the jail the state attorney’s office did not file charges on the shooting and the separate burglary.
Earlier this year, the suspect was arrested again for carrying a concealed firearm. Law enforcement also believes the suspect is affiliated to a gang and an unsolved homicide.
“My point is, like too many cases, why was this violent offender not held responsible for the original shooting?” Chronister said.
The state attorney’s reason to the sheriff’s office was because the depositions “would have been too lengthy and complicated.”
Former Chief of Police for the Tampa Police Department, Brian Dugan, called Andrew Warren a “fraud” who has “misled” people in the county. Dugan referred to the riots when about 60 people were arrested in one night where Warren held a press conference claiming there were no acts of violence.
“He must not have read the police report. There were pictures of a police car with broken windshields,” Dugan said. “As the cops tried to get out of the car, protesters pushed their doors shut on them.”
“We should have had someone who did their job,” Dugan said. “The governor should not have had to come to Hillsborough County and clean up our mess.”
Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, called the governor’s move a “shocking political attack.”
“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. “As anti-abortion radicals try to move us closer to a full abortion ban, he said he wouldn’t prosecute women, or families with LGBTQ+ kids, by interfering with personal decision-making about their health care.”
Driskell said it throws the Hillsborough criminal justice system into “unnecessary chaos and confusion.”
“Also, I find it incredibly hypocritical that the Governor says we are a nation of laws not men after he instructed the legislature to ignore the Voting Rights Act during Redistricting, and while his Commissioner of Education tells school officials to ignore Federal Title IX guidelines,” Driskell said. “This clearly isn’t about being a government of laws, it’s about being the Kingdom of Ron DeSantis, and no dissent is tolerated.”
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