When his spokesperson tweeted that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would be making a “MAJOR announcement” resulting in “the liberal media meltdown of the year,” it seemed it might have had something to do with his presidential intentions.
It didn’t—and it did. DeSantis announced at a press conference that he was suspending Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren, a duly elected Democrat linked to George Soros—thus further presenting himself as the champion against all things ‘woke’.
Warren’s selective prosecutions have led to him being seen as soft on crime. He also has made it known he will not enforce restrictions on abortion and gender-affirming treatments for juveniles that he views as contrary to the Florida constitution.
“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 said.
Interestingly, DeSantis seemed most bothered by something Warren did that has nothing to do with violent crime.
“In June of 2021, [Warren] signed a letter saying that he would not enforce any prohibitions on sex-change operations for minors,” DeSantis said. “And that’s a debate that we’re having mostly administratively and through medical licensing in Florida, but other states have enacted penalties on the people that would perform those, which are really disfiguring these young kids. And he said it doesn’t matter what the legislature does in the state of Florida.”
In other words, DeSantis had removed an elected prosecutor for saying he would not enforce a law that does not even exist. But it allowed DeSantis to once again make a public political issue about what he calls trans kids’ “private parts.”
During the press conference, DeSantis invited Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister to the podium. Chronister dutifully lauded the governor and condemned Warren, recounting a junk justice tale involving a terrorized woman and gun-toting felon suspected of murder and gang affiliation.
“Thank you, governor, we are extremely grateful the state of Florida and all of law enforcement have you,” Chronister gushed. “Governor DeSantis is holding state attorney Warren accountable.”
“It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.”
— Andrew Warren
But just two years ago, at another press conference, Chronister himself had stood beside Warren and trumpeted the arrest of a local pastor who had insisted on holding in-person church services in violation of state and federal emergency COVID public health orders.
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” Chronister said of Ronald Howard-Browne, pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church.
Warren added, “Make no mistake, this issue is about the health and safety of our community. Putting your parishioners at risk in a time of an emergency like this is not only reckless, it is illegal.”
In fact, Warren was a fan of Chronister’s, crossing party lines to praise the Republican sheriff in the 2018 election, saying, “Sheriff Chronister is a true partner in making Hillsborough County a safe place for our citizens. Most importantly, Sheriff Chronister is a friend and trusted adviser that I know our entire community can count on.”
Back then, Chronister had expressed his gratitude to Warren, saying,“the State Attorney works closely with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office not only to prosecute crimes and seek justice for victims but to also protect the rights of all our citizens. To have the support of State Attorney Andrew Warren is definitely a boost to our campaign.”
When the pandemic hit, these two elected law enforcement officials stood together in defense of measures based on actual science. But just two days after Warren and Chronsiter jointly accused the pastor of endangering others, DeSantis signed an executive order classifying houses of worship as “essential services” exempt from the prohibition against public indoor gatherings.
Warren denounced DeSantis in the press, suggesting he might be “caving to powerful interests,” calling him ““weak…spineless.”
Yet the charges against the pastor were dropped. DeSantis questioned other COVID precautions, notably including mask and vaccine mandates, decrying them as challenges to our God-given freedoms. He continued to act as if COVID were nothing to worry about, even as the deaths on his watch during the pandemic in Florida reached 77,823.
At last count, deaths in Hillsborough due to COVID in the pandemic totaled 3,978.
Now that the toll has slowed and many people imagine the pandemic is over, the big issue seemingly everywhere is not COVID, but crime. And in suspending Warren on Thursday, DeSantis was seeking to portray himself as standing against a nationwide epidemic of lawlessness.
“We govern ourselves based on a constitutional system and based on the rule of law, but yet we’ve seen across this country over the last few years, individual prosecutors take it upon themselves to determine which laws they like and will enforce and which laws they don’t like, and then don’t enforce,” he told the press conference. “And the results of this in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been catastrophic.”
DeSantis said he had asked his staff to “look around the state of Florida and to make sure that that was not going to happen here.” He said they “spoke with law enforcement throughout the state…And it all came back to this area here in the 13th judicial circuit in Hillsborough county.”
The talk about specific unprosecuted crimes there came from Warren’s onetime comrade in the fight against COVID deaths, Chronister. He was followed by several other law enforcement figures, who charged that Warren too often was too selective in his prosecutions.
“Andrew Warren is a fraud,” former Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
Warren had scheduled a press conference on Thursday about a man named Robert DuBoise, who spent nearly four decades behind bars before he was exonerated and freed in 2020. Warren instead tweeted a response to DeSantis’ action.
“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,” he tweeted. “It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.”
Warren had most recently been the choice of 53.4 percent of the electorate.
“Just because the governor violates your rights, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” he added