Ousted Prosecutor Accuses DeSantis of 'Blatant Abuse of Power'

Andrew Warren has filed a federal lawsuit
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2022 3:48 PM CDT
Updated Aug 17, 2022 2:55 PM CDT
DeSantis Ousts Prosecutor Over Abortion Cases
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister states his support for the decision by Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, right, to suspend State Attorney Andrew Warren on Thursday in Tampa.   (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Update: A Florida prosecutor ousted by Gov. Ron DeSantis is suing to get his job back, accusing the Republican governor of "blatant abuse of power." Andrew Warren, who was suspended as state attorney in Hillsborough County earlier this month, accused DeSantis of violating his First Amendment rights in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Politico reports. The Democrat said he was suspended from his elected position not because of actions, but because of words: He signed a pledge not to prosecute women for seeking abortions and a statement "condemning the proposed criminalization of transgender people and gender-affirming healthcare." Our story from Aug. 4 follows:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren have clashed often. On Thursday, DeSantis surrounded himself with the state's attorney general, the county's sheriff, and police officials from around the Tampa Bay area, and announced he'd removed Warren from office. There are ways he can be restored as state attorney, but the suspension effectively is a firing, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The issue is Warren's policy of not bringing prosecutions to enforce laws that restrict access to abortion or prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming care for minors.

Warren, a Democrat, has "put himself publicly above the law," said DeSantis, a Republican. "Our government is a government of laws, not a government of men." Warren, who was escorted from his office, said in a statement that this "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 was reelected in 2020 with 53.4% of the vote.

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DeSantis said he had asked his staff to see if there were any Florida prosecutors who might decline to enforce certain laws, after seeing instances of that in California. Warren's name came up, he said. Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the news conference that law enforcement officials have been frustrated by Warren's refusal to bring certain cases. Warren has been critical of DeSantis over matters including anti-riot legislation approved last year and the election security force the governor helped institute. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for governor, called DeSantis' action "a politically motivated attack on a universally respected state attorney democratically elected to exercise prosecutorial discretion," per CNN. (More Ron DeSantis stories.)

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