Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that his office is suspending Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren “effective immediately” for violating his oath of office, and making himself “above the law.”
“Our government is a government of laws, not a government of men,” DeSantis declared Thursday morning during a press conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Florida.
DeSantis said Warren has had “a very very troubling record” since he came to office in 2016, with the assistance of left-wing billionaire George Soros’ campaign cash.
“Andrew Warren has put himself against the law,” said DeSantis, who was flanked by law enforcement officers at the Sheriff’s office.
The governor explained Warren had decided for himself that he would not enforce certain laws passed by the Florida legislature, including Florida’s laws protecting the right to life, and protecting children from puberty blockers, and sex-change surgeries. DeDantis noted that the State Constitution has vested the veto power in the governor, not state attorneys.
“When you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty. 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 reform those duties,” DeSantis declared. “So today we are suspending State Attorney Andrew Warren effective immediately.”
The governor’s announcement was highly anticipated after his press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted Wednesday night that it would cause the “liberal media meltdown of the year.”
MAJOR announcement tomorrow morning from @GovRonDeSantis.
Prepare for the liberal media meltdown of the year
Everyone get some rest tonight 😉 🌚
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) August 4, 2022
DeSantis has appointed Judge Susan Lopez to serve as State Attorney for the period of suspension.
“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,” DeSantis said in a written statement.
Lopez, County Court Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit, thanked DeSantis for placing his trust in her.
“I have the utmost respect for our state laws and I understand the important role that the State Attorney plays in ensuring the safety of our community and the enforcement of our laws,” she said. “I want to thank the Governor for placing his trust in me, and I promise that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office.”
During the presser, DeSantis vowed that he would not let Florida become safe havens for criminals like many blue states have become.
“We are not going to allow this pathogen that’s been around the country of ignoring the law to get a foothold in the state of Florida. We are going to make sure that our laws are enforced,” the governor said.
“The states and localities that have allowed this to happen, they are ruing the day. You know why people are moving to Florida? Because their communities are no longer safe, thanks to prosecutors who think they know better than the people’s representatives, and they get to pick and choose which laws they’re enforcing,” he added.
DeSantis said that Warren had been basically elevating his own “personal sense of social justice over what the law requires” of him.
Indeed, the Tampa Bay Times described Warren as “a frequent face touting progressive justice policies as Hillsborough County’s state attorney.”
In June of 2020, Warren reportedly announced that he would not prosecute 67 people arrested during a George Floyd riot. “He did it again in July, proclaiming his office would prosecute a local teen who the FBI said hacked celebrity Twitter accounts and used them to steal Bitcoin,” the Times reported in a Nov. 2020 glowing profile.
“When you enforce the rule of law, you are protecting the most vulnerable in society. That’s why we have a rule of law,” the governor said, adding, “I just think that to take a position that you have veto power over the laws of this state is untenable, and I think it warrants his suspension and eventual removal from office.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said the suspension of Warren was not political, but “a matter of law and order.”
“It’s about ensuring our loved ones are safe. It’s about the victims and their voices. There aren’t Republican and Democratic victims—just victims. They matter, and they should be heard,” Chronister said. “For the last several years, state attorney Warren has acted as an adjudicator of all, as if some supreme authority, by reducing charges, dropping cases, and single-handedly determining what crimes will be legal, or illegal in our county. ”
Chronister described what he called one of the most “egregious examples” of Warren putting himself above the law.
It happened in September and it involved a suspect who after shooting someone, then opened fire on a residence where victims sought refuge and protection. Inside of that house was the victim, his mother, other children, and extended family members who were forced to take cover and hide. To make matters worse, nearby was another mother and her twin infant children in a vehicle. One of the shooters, or suspects was identified, and arrested just a few days later. After being released from jail, he was caught and arrested for committing another burglary, and while in jail, the State Attorney’s office files no charges on the shooting and the separate burglary.
Earlier this year, he said, this same suspect was arrested for carrying around a concealed firearm, and then again last week for the same offense.
Chronister said that when asked why this violent offender wasn’t held accountable for his earlier crimes, the state prosecutor’s office replied that “the depositions would have been too lengthy and complicated.”
The sheriff went on to say that his office believes the repeat offender is gang-affiliated, and was involved in an unsolved homicide. He added that the victim of the shooting in September has been living in a motel ever since because she’s too scared to go home.
Chronister noted that his law enforcement officers continue to show up for work amid this adversity, but have been “highly frustrated” with the state attorney “who seems intently focused on empathy for criminals, and less interested in pursuing justice.”
“Empowering criminals through a lack of prosecution jeopardizes the safety of our Tampa Bay community, and makes them even more brazen to commit additional crimes, and continue to victimize the innocent,” he said.
“As the sheriff of Hillsborough County, I am committed to law and order, and I hold myself accountable to the people, and would expect other elected members of our community to uphold these same values. Today, Governor DeSantis is holding State Attorney Warren accountable,” Chronister concluded.