DeSantis Suspends Tampa Prosecutor Who Vowed Not to Criminalize Abortion

MIAMI — Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended the highest prosecutor in Tampa on Thursday, accusing him of incompetence and neglect of responsibility for vowing to not prosecute those that search or present abortions.

In a startling announcement, Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, suspended from workplace Andrew H. Warren, the elected state lawyer of Hillsborough County. In June, Mr. Warren, a Democrat, was amongst 90 elected prosecutors throughout the nation who vowed to not prosecute those that search or present abortions after the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade. Florida imposed a 15-week abortion ban in April.

The choice instantly raised considerations amongst Democrats, together with Mr. Warren, who say that the governor has develop into more and more heavy-handed.

Mr. DeSantis stated that the abortion assertion and different actions by Mr. Warren amounted to “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties,” and that the prosecutor’s strategy to the job left Mr. DeSantis with no alternative however to droop him.

“When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty, you have neglected your duty and you are displaying a lack of competence to be able to perform those duties,” Mr. DeSantis stated to cheers on the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Workplace, the place he was flanked by a gaggle of uniformed sheriffs and police chiefs.

The suspension of Mr. Warren, a distinguished Democrat and frequent DeSantis critic who’s serving in his second time period because the chief prosecutor for the thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, evidently got here as information even to his workplace.

Mr. Warren stated in an announcement that his suspension “spits in the face of the voters.”

“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,” Mr. Warren stated, including, “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.”

The regulation enforcement officers who appeared with Mr. DeSantis expressed frustration with Mr. Warren for not prosecuting sure crimes. “Andrew Warren is a fraud,” stated Brian Dugan, a former chief of the Tampa Police Division.

The sheriffs and police chiefs took turns praising Mr. DeSantis and criticizing liberal-leaning cities — New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco — by identify. Anti-abortion teams additionally applauded Mr. DeSantis.

“Want to know why some people are moving to Florida?” Mr. DeSantis stated. “Because their communities are no longer safe, thanks to prosecutors who think they know better.”

Even in a state the place governors and prosecutors have been recognized to tussle within the open, Mr. DeSantis’s intervention — and his trumpeting of it — stunned officers in Florida. Beneath Florida regulation, a governor can droop state officers for wrongdoing that features neglect of responsibility, incompetence, malfeasance, drunkenness or fee of a felony. Mr. DeSantis’s Republican predecessor, Rick Scott, tended to droop elected officers solely after they’d been charged with a criminal offense.

In 2017, when Aramis D. Ayala, a Democrat who was then the state lawyer in Orlando, startled the state by saying she wouldn’t search the dying penalty in any instances, Mr. Scott reassigned greater than two dozen instances to a different state lawyer’s workplace. However he didn’t droop Ms. Ayala, who didn’t search re-election after her time period and is now operating for Florida lawyer normal.

Mr. DeSantis has been far more aggressive. Shortly after taking workplace in 2019, he suspended Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, a Democrat, faulting him for his dealing with of the mass taking pictures at a Parkland highschool in 2018, though Mr. Israel had not been criminally charged. Mr. Israel unsuccessfully appealed his suspension to the courts and the State Senate and later misplaced a re-election bid.

Mr. DeSantis is up for re-election in November and has confronted rising criticism from Democrats that his strategy to governing has develop into more and more authoritarian. On Thursday, the 2 main Democrats vying to problem him, Consultant Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner, reacted to Mr. Warren’s suspension by referring to Mr. DeSantis in statements as a “wannabe dictator” (Mr. Crist) and a “dictator” (Ms. Fried).

Miriam Krinsky, the chief director of Truthful and Simply Prosecution, which put out the assertion in opposition to criminalizing abortion that Mr. Warren signed in June, referred to as his suspension “an unprecedented and dangerous intrusion on the separation of powers and the will of the voters.”

“Governors don’t hand pick elected prosecutors, the voters do,” she stated in an announcement. “With this outrageous overreach, Gov. DeSantis is sending a clear message that the will of the people of Hillsborough County matters less than his own political agenda.”

Mr. Warren was elected to a second four-year time period with about 53 p.c of the vote in 2020. He was certainly one of many prosecutors who had been backed in 2016 by teams supported by the billionaire liberal investor George Soros. Mr. DeSantis didn’t identify Mr. Soros on Thursday however appeared to allude to him, saying that Mr. Warren had run a marketing campaign funded by out-of-state donors. Mr. DeSantis himself has amassed a marketing campaign conflict chest brimming with out-of-state donations.

“Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice,” Mr. Warren and the opposite prosecutors stated of their joint assertion in June. “Prosecutors should not be part of that.”

Mr. Warren had beforehand criticized Mr. DeSantis for enacting anti-protest laws and creating an election crimes workplace.

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. DeSantis cited a second assertion from Truthful and Simply Prosecution that Mr. Warren signed that pledged to not criminalize “transgender people and gender-affirming health care.”

“I don’t think the people of Hillsborough want to have an agenda that is basically woke, where you’re deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” Mr. DeSantis stated.

Mr. DeSantis has lately blasted surgical procedures for transgender adolescents, saying docs who carry out such procedures must be sued. Main medical teams have endorsed so-called gender-affirming medical look after teenage sufferers, together with using puberty blockers and hormones when essential. Genital surgical procedures should not advisable for these below 18, whereas tips say mastectomies might be provided to youngsters 15 and up.

The Florida Division of Well being has stated that it opposes all transition-related care for youngsters, together with social modifications like names and pronouns.

Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.