Andrew Warren released a new video message on Sunday in which he vows to fight Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on his suspension that was announced late last week.
On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit due to neglect of duty.
“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,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida. I have the utmost trust that Judge Susan Lopez will lead the office through this transition and faithfully uphold the rule of law.”
Under the Florida Constitution, 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.
On Sunday, Warren said, “I’m not going down without a fight. I’m a former federal prosecutor, the duly elected State Attorney, a native Floridian, and a proud American. I refuse to let this man trample on your freedoms to speak your mind, to make your own health care decisions, and to have your vote count.”
“I was elected because the people of this county share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment, and have seen our success. I swore to uphold the Constitution, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. DeSantis is trying to take away my job for doing my job,” Warren said.
In the message, Warren states that DeSantis’ plot to suspend him blatantly violates the most fundamental basis of our democracy—your vote. Warren adds that DeSantis is trying to overturn the results of a fair and free election, abusing his power to serve his own political ambition.
The governor said on Thursday that he will pursue Warren’s eventual removal from office, an issue that would have to go before the Republican-controlled state Senate.
“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,” said DeSantis. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida. I have the utmost trust that Judge Susan Lopez will lead the office through this transition and faithfully uphold the rule of law.”
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.”
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.
DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County judge Susan Lopez to take Warren’s place during his period of suspension.
Lopez, 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.”
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