Tampa — To the surprise of no one, Florida Democrats and their media chorus continue to defend the justly fired prosecutor who wouldn’t do his job and to savage the governor who did do his.
The aftershocks from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Thursday sacking of Tampa State Attorney Andrew Warren continue to be felt throughout the state, with conservatives and honest prosecutors praising the move, which if anything was overdue, while Democrats and the state’s corporate media claim it’s — wait for it — “a threat to democracy.” (To clarify possible confusion here — in most of the country, local prosecutors are called district attorneys. In Florida, they’re called state attorneys, not be confused with the state attorney general.)
DeSantis suspended Warren because this social justice warrior had pledged not to enforce state laws that restrict abortions after 15 weeks and sex changes for minors. Warren joined almost 100 prosecutors across the nation, including infamous Los Angeles prosecutor George Gascón and San Francisco’s former district attorney, Chesa Boudin (also now unemployed), in a letter saying they would nullify laws enacted by state legislatures and signed off on by governors if they didn’t like those laws.
It’s not just laws around the high-profile and highly emotional issues of abortion and sex-change surgery for minors that Warren refuses to prosecute. Since assuming office in 2016, Warren has made it a policy not to prosecute trespassing at a business location, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, prostitution, and resisting arrest without violence. During the George Floyd paroxysms of 2020, he passed out get-out-of-jail-free cards to Black Lives Matter hell-raisers, blowing off 67 arrests with the remarkable claim that there was no violence or vandalism involved when rioters owned Tampa streets. Those who were at ground zero during the melees or who watched the festivities on television saw a different picture than the one Warren painted. Cops, wiping protester spittle off their faces, saw it differently as well. Warren, however, did find time to arrest a Tampa minister for holding in-person church services during the COVID lockdowns.
DeSantis removed Warren from office because Warren was abusing his office by refusing to enforce laws that didn’t fit in with his leftist politics. If this isn’t dereliction of Warren’s oath of office, I don’t know what would be. But of course Warren, who has blatantly used his office politically as an end run around state law, accuses DeSantis of cynical politics for pulling Warren’s plug. This lame defense is enough for the usual suspects on the left. As expected, Democrats and their media horse-holders have melted down.
The reliably leftist Tampa Bay Times, as predictable as the movement of the planets, called DeSantis’s action “politically craven, legally suspect, suspiciously timed and odorously soaked in autocracy, partisanship and bad faith.” Wow. Leaves you breathless, doesn’t it?
Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor, another lawyer who doesn’t understand the difference between prosecutorial discretion and prosecutor nullification, chimed in with this non-sequitur: “The Republican agenda is clear: criminalize women’s health care, roll back our rights and feed your political ambitions rather than the people you are elected to serve.”
State Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, followed her party-mates over the top, claiming that 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.” Either Cruz is just having us on to attract votes from abortion fundamentalists or she doesn’t understand that prosecutors don’t criminalize or un-criminalize anything. Legislators do. That’s you, Janet. As for who exactly respected Warren, the list is probably pretty short after the criminal predators he’s chosen not to hold responsible for their actions.
Cruz went on, saying, “There are no words to describe the attacks on women happening right here in our own backyard — just when I thought Governor DeSantis couldn’t be more extreme and unhinged.” What’s unhinged here is Cruz’s statement.
Not to be left out, lighter-than-air Rep. Charlie Crist, DeSantis’ likely Democratic opponent in November’s race for governor, chimed in, calling DeSantis an “autocrat that would love to be the dictator of Florida, and then America.”
Across the state, Democrats rushed to media mics to give the same kind of fevered responses you’ve read here, while others, including prosecutors who know what their jobs are, sang a different song. Ed Brodsky, state attorney for Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit (Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto), had a response typical of these prosecutors:
As state attorneys, our duties are to enforce the laws that are put on the books by the legislature…. And if we carte blanche or clearly announce that we’re not going to follow the law, we’re going to disregard the law, I think that’s when you are going to come into the crossfires of the governor.
A more measured media response came from a Wall Street Journal editorial, saying, “For a prosecutor to announce ahead of time that he intends to decline whole categories of cases, simply because he disagrees with the legislators who wrote the criminal codes, is an abuse of discretion.” To anyone not in the total grip of partisanship or ideology, this should be as clear as spring water.
DeSantis, the Wall Street Journal, and real prosecutors, who know their jobs and stay in their lanes, are right. The Democrats, caught out when one of their own misuses his office, and with neither the law nor the merits on their side, are engaging in that last-resort tactic of the guilty and desperate: pounding the table.
DeSantis’ decisive action should be a guide for other governors whose residents chaff under soft-on-crime prosecutors who refuse to do their duty, thereby leaving the streets unsafe. What a difference they could make if they just had the courage of their non-prosecutors’ lack of convictions.