On Wednesday, a Florida state attorney who had been placed on administrative leave filed a lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis, saying that the Republican had wrongfully removed the prosecutor from his position and was now trying to subvert the decision of Sunshine State voters.
Prior to DeSantis suspending him earlier this month, Andrew Warren served as the state attorney for Hillsborough County, which includes the city of Tampa.
The two argued about what the governor referred to as Warren’s casual approach to criminal prosecution and the state attorney’s vowed reluctance to enforce the state’s restriction on abortions beyond 15 weeks or any possible laws limiting care for transgender people that are gender-affirming.
Warren, who was initially elected in 2016 and then re-elected in 2020, alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tampa that when the government removed him, DeSantis violated his First Amendment rights.
DeSantis suspended Warren from his elected office and “has deprived Warren of the ability to perform his duties, of his income, and of the benefits associated with the job,” he claims in the 28-page lawsuit. “As a result of Warren’s decision to continue to speak out on issues his constituents elected him to pursue.”
Warren acknowledged signing two statements in opposition to restrictions on abortion and “[b]lls that criminalize safe and essential medical treatments or the mere public existence of trans people” with other prosecutors across the country but insisted that neither statement specifically mentioned a Florida law.
Despite this, DeSantis’ executive order removing him from office, according to Warren, references his signatures on the two statements.
Straight FIRE from America's Governor:
"The fact of the matter is, when Leftist government takes hold, society flounders." —Governor @RonDeSantisFL 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/TrFqwXQdx6
— Team DeSantis 🐊 (@teamrondesantis) August 16, 2022
Of course, DeSantis is allowed to disagree with Warren and to express his opinions as often as he wishes. Indeed, he is, as the Federal Constitution guarantees,” Warren claims in the court document.
But on August 4, 2022, DeSantis overstepped his bounds. DeSantis issued Executive Order 22-176 suspending Warren from his legitimately elected position in order to stifle dissent and advance cronyism, the statement continues.
Warren charged the governor with engaging in an “illegal abuse of power” during a news conference on Wednesday morning.
“This situation involves far more than just my employment. “Ron DeSantis is trying to get away with throwing out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians in a fair election,” he claimed.
Warren continued, “We can ensure that no governor may throw away the results of an election because he doesn’t like the outcome by contesting this illegal abuse of authority.
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Warren was accused of “incompetence” and “neglect of duty” by DeSantis in the 29-page executive order on August 4 that suspended the state attorney. DeSantis, who is most likely to run in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, laid out a long list of charges against Warren.
Susan Lopez, a district judge, was appointed by the governor to take Warren’s seat.
The lawsuit, according to DeSantis’ office, was predicted.
Florida is not Ron DeSantis’s stepping stone — Floridians deserve a governor who cares for our state.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) August 18, 2022
It’s understandable that Warren, who was expelled for defying the law, would bring a frivolous lawsuit to try to overturn his expulsion, according to Taryn Fenske, a spokesman for DeSantis. We are eager to answer in court.