Aug 4, 2022

DeSantis suspends state attorney for refusing to enforce laws Transcript

DeSantis suspends state attorney for refusing to enforce laws Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAndrew WarrenDeSantis suspends state attorney for refusing to enforce laws Transcript

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he has suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren for allegedly refusing to enforce state laws. Read the transcript here. 

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DeSantis: (00:02)
Good morning. Thank you. Thanks so much. Thank you. Thanks to Sheriff Chronister for having us here for today’s announcement. And we’re glad that we’re back in Hillsborough County. Our government is a government of laws, not a government of men. And what that means is that 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. And the results of this in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been catastrophic. You could go in in San Francisco and steal a certain amount of merchandise. And you just would, by definition, not be prosecuted. That has undermined public safety. It has really hurt these communities and has been devastating to the rule of law.

DeSantis: (01:07)
So as I saw that happening across the country earlier this year, I asked my staff and my office to look around the state of Florida and to make sure that that was not going to happen here, where you would have individual prosecutors nullify laws that were enacted by the people’s representatives. They spoke with law enforcement throughout the state. They spoke with line prosecutors throughout the state, and it all came back to this area here in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County. And the response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted. And so we looked into it and we compiled a lot of the record and I can tell you, it’s been a very, very troubling record. So the prosecutor, state attorney for this judicial circuit, Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law.

DeSantis: (02:08)
In June 2021 he signed a letter saying that he would not enforce any prohibitions on sex change operations for minors. 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. He’s going to exercise a veto over that. He’s also instituted policies of presumptive, non enforcement, and this involves an array of different things. And you’ll probably hear Sheriff Chronister and some of the other law enforcement officers talk about it, but that is not consistent with the role of a prosecutor. Yes, you can exercise discretion in an individual case, but that discretion has to be individualized and case specific. You can’t just say you’re not going to do certain offenses.

DeSantis: (03:02)
And then most recently after the Dobbs decision was rendered by the US Supreme Court, he signed a letter saying he, “would not enforce any laws relating to protecting the right to life in the state of Florida.” And mind you, we have had prohibition on third trimester abortions for a long time. We’ve had prohibitions on partial birth abortions for a long time. And then most recently, the legislature enacted and I signed protections from unborn babies at three and a half months. And when they are aborted, it’s typically done through a dismemberment procedure, which is really inhumane. Nevertheless, that is what the legislature has enacted. And it’s not for him to put himself above that and say that he is not going to enforce the laws. We don’t elect people in one part of the state to have veto power over what the entire state decides on these important issues. The constitution of Florida has vested the veto power in the governor, not an individual state attorney. And so when you flagrantly violate your oath of [inaudible 00:04:07]-

DeSantis: (04:06)
… and that no individual prosecutor puts himself above the law. And I can tell you the states and the localities that have allowed this to happen. They are ruining the day. You want to know why some people are moving to Florida? Because their communities are no longer safe thanks to prosecutors that think they know better than the people’s representatives and they get to pick and choose which laws that they’re enforcing. So this was something that had a lot of input around the state. This is something that I think is a very, very important issue across our country, that this movement would be allowed to take hold where you basically elevate your own personal conception of quote, “social justice” over what the law requires of you. And I would note, those who say this represents social justice. Look at San Francisco. They had to recall this prosecutor who was put in, funded by people like George Soros saying he’s not going to prosecute.

DeSantis: (05:56)
They did the recall election. He was recalled even in a very liberal jurisdiction, but the places that voted to keep him were the affluent communities who are not bearing the brunt of the policies. The places that voted to recall him were the working class communities because they bear the burden of ignorance and refusal to enforce the law. And so what this is all about is really when you uphold the rule of law, you are protecting the most vulnerable in our society. That’s why we have a rule of law. And so I think today’s action is obviously warranted. I know that they’ll potentially be some… Florida Senate could potentially see this depending on how things are going out. But 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 the suspension and eventual removal of office.

DeSantis: (06:51)
And so we’re happy to be here with a number of people in law enforcement. And so I want to thank my friend and the sheriff here, Ted Chronister in Hillsborough County and I’m going to have him come up and say a few things.

Sheriff Chronister : (07:04)
Thank you, governor. We are truly grateful, the state of Florida and all of law enforcement to have you. Each day, I wake up, I leave my family and I go to work with purpose and pride to uphold my oath of office and keep everyone in Hillsborough County safe. And the nearly 4,000 employees here at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, share these same values. We put our lives on the line for complete strangers. We are resolved to apprehend the criminals who prey on law abiding citizens in our community. It’s our duty and we trust that our criminal justice system, the state attorney, public defender and courts will fairly adjudicate the circumstances and hold those who are guilty, accountable. Like law enforcement throughout the county, our criminal justice partners also take an oath to uphold the constitution, the dually enacted laws of this state and to be the voice for victims and the protectors of public interest.

Sheriff Chronister : (08:10)
The governor’s suspension of State Attorney Warren is not political to me. It’s about 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. Over the last several years, State Attorney Warren has acted as an adjudicator of all as if some type of supreme authority by reducing charges, dropping cases and single handedly determining what crimes will be legal or illegal in our county. Ask yourself, aren’t these the decisions for the courts or a jury of our peers? One of the more egregious examples occurred in September and involved a suspect who after shooting someone then opened fire on a residence where that victim 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 things even worse, nearby was another mother and her twin infant children in a vehicle.

Sheriff Chronister : (09:25)
One of the shooters, our suspect, was identified and arrested just a short 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, no files charges on the shooting and the separate burglary charge. Earlier this year, this very same suspect was again arrested for carrying a concealed firearm and just last week arrested for the second time on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. My point is, like too many cases why was this violent offender not held responsible for the original shooting? The state attorney’s office explanation to our detective is, “The depositions would’ve been too lengthy and complicated.”

Sheriff Chronister : (10:15)
To add a little more context, the suspect who faced no accountability for the shooting, we believe has gang affiliation and involvement in an unsolved homicide. One of the victims in this case, the mother, is extremely angry and frustrated with State Attorney Warren, feeling as though her status as a victim doesn’t matter and the state attorney simply does not care. The victim wanted to be here today to tell her story herself, but has to work in order to provide for her family. The victim has lived in a motel since this shooting because she’s too frightened to return to that home. Even in the face of this adversity, law enforcement continues to report for duty and uphold their obligation.

Sheriff Chronister : (11:03)
As your sheriff, I continue to work with my law enforcement counterparts, who privately are frustrated with the state attorney who seems intently focused on empathy for criminals and less interested in pursuing justice for crime victims.

Sheriff Chronister : (11:22)
As most everyone knows, I’m a tremendous proponent of reducing recidivism. I’ve created several diversion programs and continue to provide resources, education, and training opportunities for individuals to rehabilitate and improve themselves, while still holding offenders responsible for their actions. These efforts do not involve a blatant refusal to uphold the laws of our state. As the governor just outlined and as Tampa law enforcement has seen over the years, 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.

Sheriff Chronister : (12:10)
As a 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.

DeSantis: (12:29)
Okay. Another one of our great sheriffs that many of you know, Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd.

Grady Judd: (12:49)
Thank you very much, governor. It’s truly my honor to be a Florida sheriff. And I can tell you, I’ve done this job my entire adult life. I remember, governor, when the felons-

Sheriff Grady Judd: (13:03)
… Life. I remember, Governor, when the felons owned Florida. It was in the ’70s and ’80s. I remember that well. I was one of the cops on the street when we couldn’t keep the felons locked up, we couldn’t keep the criminals locked up and they prayed on the community. And Governor, they didn’t prey on the ones behind the gated communities in the million and half million dollar homes, they prayed on what I call the real working people. And then the magic thing happened. We changed the laws. We decided to hold them accountable. And Governor, it was a Democrat governor that signed the legislation that started us down the path originally to make a positive difference.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (13:45)
Now, I look around the country today. I’ve seen a few things. I was recently the president of the Major County Sheriffs of America. I talked to and counseled with the sheriffs from the largest jurisdictions in the entire nation to include the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office. In fact, the sheriff there was my vice president of the association at one time. And you know what they tell me, they tell me we got a dumpster fire going on in this nation. And you know who’s getting burned by this dumpster fire, the working people. It’s not safe for people to walk the streets.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (14:26)
The homeless aren’t being looked out for. The mentally ill aren’t being looked out for, and it’s by the major people. Now, Governor, I know you’d be disappointed if you didn’t see some cards. So let me give you a snapshot of the people that join Prosecutor Warren in not enforcing the law. We just want to enforce the law. It’s the prosecutor in New Orleans, per capita it’s the highest murder rate in the United States. You’re going to see a common theme here in a minute. San Francisco, where businesses are closing, where they threw the prosecutor out because they weren’t holding criminals accountable.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (15:10)
Chicago, I think that speaks for itself. Los Angeles, where the sheriff told me I’ve got 60,000 homeless. We have criminals running wild. We have innocent people being victimized. And who’s responsible there? The prosecutor, the chief prosecutor who’s allowing it to occur. He has the law. He has the tools. Baltimore, Maryland, but that’s not all. And here’s one of our favorite places, Portland, Oregon. You can set up a chop zone there and just not let the cops come in. You know how long there’d be a chop zone in Polk County? As long as it takes me to drive back there from here.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (16:04)
New York, where they’re not holding people accountable, Seattle, Washington, and Washington, DC. So what’s the commonality here? Just go look for yourself. Look at the data. The murders are up. Innocent people are being murdered where prosecutors don’t do their job. My friend Chad Chronister just gave you an example. We don’t have time to stand here all day. But listen, Prosecutor Warren, like the rest of us who ran for public office, we asked for your precious vote in order to enforce the law and do what was right. Then we took an oath to tell the truth, to uphold the constitution and to support the laws and the government.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (16:57)
And we do that and we’re led by the greatest governor in the United States of America. But there are some, and it’s the elected prosecutors that sign the papers, that said they wouldn’t prosecute. Not we’ll evaluate it case by case, we won’t prosecute. They’re not God. They’re not the legislature. So at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, this is about protecting the community we serve. This is about keeping people safe. And when you look at the highest murder rates, when you look where the quality of life is lowest, you look at the prosecutor who does not support law enforcement, who does not do what’s right.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (17:56)
Our governor does what’s right. And Governor, I appreciate from the bottom of my heart you setting the example and doing the right thing and keeping the people safe. And the exciting thing is you not only protect the people behind the gated communities, you protect the people who cling the gates on those communities. Thank you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:20)
Thank you.

Sheriff Grady Judd: (18:20)
God bless you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:28)
And now with the unenviable task of following Grady is Chris Nocco from Pasco County.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (18:40)
Thank you. I’ve learned one thing. When I follow my friend Grady Judd, be brief and be on point. Because nobody else will hear anything else. So I will say I’m very proud to say to our governor, the attorney general and was Sheriff Chronister. They know firsthand, and you’ll hear from Chief Dugan, firsthand what happens here in Hillsborough County. But I can tell you is that it’s very difficult for them when they go out to men and women agencies to protect our community and then to turn around and find out those cases got no filed, to find out that they have to go back to a victim and say, sorry, this won’t be prosecuted.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (19:18)
Those are very difficult days for those individuals. It’s very difficult for the men and women in uniform. And I can tell you, let me go back to that point. The women and men in uniform, we are family people. We are people in our community. We take these uniforms off every day and we spend time in our family, but this is our community. This is where we live. And so for those that live in Hillsborough County to see incidents where they were at a crime scene, but nothing was done to the criminal and the victim was left alone and the victim was to work, that’s horrible.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (19:51)
And I can tell you, I’m blessed to work and live in a circuit where we have a state attorney. That state attorney works with us and we uphold the US Constitution, we uphold the Florida Constitution and we uphold the statutes in the state of Florida. We treat everybody with respect. We treat everybody equally. We ensure that victims’ voices are heard. At the same time, if the criminals commit a crime, there will be consequences for their actions. There’s a simple process. And as the sheriff said, we are voted and we are elected to uphold the constitution in state of Florida.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (20:26)
We don’t have a choice to say no. We’re not policy makers. We’re not in Tallahassee creating the laws. We’re enforcing laws. That’s our role and our responsibility to the citizens that we serve. And I will tell you, Mr. Governor, and I’ll echo those words, we live in a state with probably the greatest governor. This is the greatest governor in our country. And I say that because I’m not a native Floridian. I moved down myself. But I have buddies that I went to high school with, they’re in law enforcement up in other states and they will tell me how difficult it’s for them.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (21:06)
They will tell me what they go through. And they say, I’m just trying to get to my pension. That means they’re just trying to get to retirement so they can move. We live in a state where we have a governor that will defend us. He will make decisive decisions. It’s not just about today. But when schools need to be open, he kept the schools open. When you need to keep the Florida moving and businesses growing, businesses were growing. That is a direct impact in the public safety. Because when people have opportunities to grow and jobs are created, that means people want to move to Florida.

Sheriff Chris Nocco: (21:36)
And that is the best statistic we can say about our state. People are moving here every day. They’re moving here because of the decisions our governor is making Governor DeSantis is leading our state. He is making those decisions that are tough, but they’re decisive and they’re making Florida better every day. Thank you, Governor, for doing that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (22:00)
All right. Well, we’re rolling with Tampa Bay law enforcement hall of fame with now our attorney general from here in Hillsborough County, Ashley Moody.

Attorney General Ashley Moody: (22:10)
I know the governor appreciates everyone being here today. And I know the folks behind me that wake up every day and put on a gun and a badge and a bulletproof vest appreciate this strong leadership. Where you are seeing an eradication of stability and safety around our nation starting with our border, into our large cities, into our states, it’s because an executive who has been trusted to enforce and execute laws has abandoned that responsibility. When you see record overdoses, record crime, it is because an executive does not care enough to stand strong and do his or her job.

Attorney General Ashley Moody: (22:58)
In our state, our top executive is Governor Ron DeSantis. And our constitution requires that he ensure it is his duty. He cannot ignore when our laws are not faithfully executed. And so the fact that we have an executive that is willing to dig in and talk to the line officers and understand where executives, prosecutors aren’t meeting the expectations and demands and responsibilities of their role, he has no other choice to step in and ensure the safety of the state and these communities. When Andrew Warren first took office, he proudly joined with prosecutors from New York, Washington, LA and said, I will not enforce and be tough on crime.

Attorney General Ashley Moody: (23:52)
Proudly, I will not be tough on crime. And thereafter, we saw repeatedly his refusal, his outright statements. I will not enforce this law. I will not enforce that law. I will not do this. Let me tell you who makes the laws and decides what’s criminal. It’s you. It’s the people of this state through their elected representatives. They decide what the law should be for the protection of their communities and their families. An executive cannot come in and eradicate that, do away with that, ignore that because that’s what creates instability. That’s what creates crime across this nation and within Florida.

Attorney General Ashley Moody: (24:34)
And when you see prosecutors out there that blame the victims or blame businesses for not having better security and not themselves for not putting criminals behind bars. When a prosecutor puts crime above law and order, you’re going to have a problem. Law enforcement knows that. They deal with it every day. And that is why when folks around this nation started talking about reducing police forces, defunding police, our governor stood up and said, oh no. How do we increase funding? How do we give our police raises? How do we recruit more to the state of Florida?

Attorney General Ashley Moody: (25:17)
And under his leadership, we launched the Be A Florida Hero program. I am proud to tell you, we have record number of officers moving to Florida from other states because their governors don’t uphold the law and don’t back the blue. We’re going to see a lot more Florida heroes in the months to come. And we are very, very grateful for the strong attentive, detail-oriented leadership of this governor and the fact that he takes seriously his responsibility to faithfully ensure that our laws are executed and our people are safe. Thanks, guys.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (26:00)
Okay. Former chief of police here in Tampa-

DeSantis: (26:03)
Okay. Former Chief of Police here in Tampa, Brian Dugan.

Brian Dugan: (26:09)
Thank you. When it comes to Sheriff Chronister, Sheriff Judd, Nocco, and our good Governor, clearly I drew the short straw when it came to good looks and hair. But thank you for having me here. Governor, it’s a bittersweet day, quite frankly. We should not be here. We should had someone who did their job. The Governor should not have had to come to Hillsborough County and clean up our mess. And that’s really what it comes down to. And I appreciate the fact, admire the fact that you have the intestinal fortitude to stand here and do this. And this is a governor who’s not afraid to stand alone in the storm, and I will always stand by you.

Brian Dugan: (26:58)
So there’s probably no one more in a room that’s more frustrated with Andrew Warren and me and Sheriff Chronister, and he spoke. And I will try to make this brief, but let me tell you something, Andrew Warren is a fraud. Yeah. Did you get that? Look, I’ve never been good at sugarcoating anything. That’s probably why it took me 28 years to become Chief of Police. He’s a fraud. He has misled the people of Hillsborough County. Do you remember back during the riots, we arrested 67 people one night? And then he, what, a few weeks later he has a press conference. And what does he say in this press conference? He says that there were no acts of violence, no property damage. He must not have read the police report.

Brian Dugan: (27:50)
There were pictures of a police car with broken windshields. As the cops tried to get out the cars, protestors pushed their doors shut on them and wouldn’t allow them out the cars. So when you say there’s no acts of violence, when you say there’s no property damage in a press conference, where I come from, you’re lying. Okay? I’m not elected. I was appointed. I’m not running for office right now. I’m here because I believe in keeping this community safe. I have two children, a wife that are residents of Hillsborough County in the City of Tampa, and is about accountability and us being able to go out for dinner at night and not feel like we’re going to get jacked by somebody.

Brian Dugan: (28:36)
Those 67 people that got arrested, Andrew Warren said in his press conference, that he would work with local law enforcement to expunge those arrests. He does not have the ability to expunge, do an administrative expungement on those arrests. You know how many articles have been written about how he expunged those arrests? How would you like to be one of those 67 people that got arrested, and you think that arrest has been expunged? Ask Andrew Warren how many of those expungements he did? And the answer will be zero, not a single arrest have been expunged. He has misled our community and it’s time that our governor stepped in. And like I said, this is a terrible day that our governor had to come and clean up our mess. Thank you.

DeSantis: (29:35)
Okay. Now we have representative Mike Beltran from the Florida House.

Mike Beltran: (29:43)
Well, thank you, Governor and thank you everyone for being here. These are some really tough acts to follow. And I’m one of the few folks up on this stage who doesn’t have a gun and a badge. And so certainly first of all, thanks to our law enforcement. But what I do have I got, I got a suit, I got a tie, and I got a rule book. And in that rule book is the Constitution, and the constitution sets forth separation of powers, and separation of power says that folks like me go out and get folks like you to vote for them to make the law. And when we do that, we send it to the Governor and he decides if it’s a good law or a bad law, and sometimes he doesn’t sign it, but he’s signed all of my things. Pretty good track record, but he usually signs it.

Mike Beltran: (30:32)
And then the folks behind me, their job is to enforce it. And then the courts, they adjudicate cases and controversies. And if Mr. Warren wanted to legislate, he should run every two years instead of every four. And we could have done something about that, we wouldn’t have to do this. Okay? But he wants to go. He needs to get out of the courthouse, not that he’s there anyway, and go up to the State House and legislate, because this is a complete violation of separation of powers. And I want to say something about the Governor. Okay. I was reading a book by a former Senator, and it said, “It’s not so much what you do in this situation you’re in, it’s what did you do differently than somebody else who’s in that same situation.” And we have 50 governors and we got about a dozen states where there’s prosecutors like Mr. Warren. And some of those prosecutors have been recalled, but this is the first governor that stood up and said, “Enough is enough.”

Mike Beltran: (31:43)
And our Attorney General has been a partner in the Executive Branch, and so is Sheriff Chronister and sheriff Judd and Sheriff Nocco and the rest of my good friends behind me. But I want to talk about constitutional separation powers. Let’s look at the Constitution. Article four of the State Constitution under which the Governor has his powers. Second sentence, section 1A, second thing that it says about the Governor, “Take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Going down to section 7A, first sentence. “The Governor may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, any counting officer for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglective duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. I’m not going to say which boxes Mr. Warren checks, because it might be a couple and I’m not sure the Speech and Debate Clause protects what I say here, but everyone knows it’s true.

Mike Beltran: (32:47)
But not only is the Governor allowed to do this. As the Attorney General said, he’s required. He’s required to do this. And those other governors are required to do. I don’t know why they don’t do it. Mr. Warren has abdicated his wall. Okay? Now, I want to talk about a case. Someone talked about gated communities and I’m just going to own it. That’s my district. We’re a suburban paradise, just 20 miles from here. It’s a beautiful community and we follow the law and we expect other people to follow the law. And somebody came into my community, and we talked about protecting the unborn, we talked about protecting kids who may be confused, but what about just regular kids, regular kids who were out at park square in the middle of the summer, on their summer vacation? And this man abducted two girls from a park area outside of a restaurant. And he took these girls down several blocks and he was passing a church, and there were folks setting up for a church event.

Mike Beltran: (33:47)
And he says to these folks, he said, “These are my daughters.” When I walk with my sons down the street, I don’t go, “These are my sons.” That should be obvious. So they knew that something was up. And there’s a gentleman here, his name’s Derek Zitco, a constituent of mine. And him and some of his fellow parishioners were able to call the police, separate the girls from this man, get the man out of the church, get the girls inside the church. And then when the man realized the police were coming, the sheriffs were coming, he ran back to the bar where I guess he got drunk. And Mr. Zitco followed him such that the police were able to track him and the man did not escape. And Mr. Zitco risked his life and took his time and energy. And the Sheriff was able to do his job and arrest this man.

Mike Beltran: (34:41)
What do you think the State Attorney did? What do you think the State Attorney did? Do you think he requested remand, did he request attention? No, he did not. When I called him, I said, “Mr. Warren.” I texted him. I called, he didn’t take my call. He doesn’t take my calls. I text him so that there’s a record. I texted him and he said, he had someone else call. He wasn’t the man enough to call me back. He had someone else call me back. He’s the conservative handler at the office. Very nice guy. And he says, “I can’t give you the file, it’s a pending investigation.” So I said to my… I said, “Go down to the courthouse, pull the tape. It’s a public record. They have to give it to you, whether they like it or not. Pull the tape.” 50 seconds, 50 seconds, no request for detention. $100, 000 bond. The man easily meets the bond and escapes or gets out, released, not escape.

Mike Beltran: (35:37)
I’m so mad I’m having trouble with my… I usually don’t have trouble with this type of thing. And then I called, I said, “I want you to make the motion. I want you to file all the charges.” And they don’t do that. And then we were able to come up with a solution. I’m not going to say what it was. I don’t know where the guy is. It was a temporary solution. I heard he was in Colorado or someplace. I don’t know where he is. And my question is, he should be in the jail. We should know where he is. And if not him, who belongs at the jail? And if not now, when are they planning to put him there? And if Andrew Warren is going to wait for another child, and if Warren’s not going to put him in the jail, then what do we need him for?

DeSantis: (36:23)
So I want to thank everybody for coming and providing some insight. Obviously, when you do a suspension, that’s part of it, but then you also have to name a replacement. And so I’m happy to be able to do that today. And she’s here with us and it’s Judge Susan Lopez who currently serves as a county judge here in Hillsborough County and has extensive experience as a prosecutor. And she has deep ties to this community. She did serve 15 years in the office, in the 13th judicial circuit. And I think she understands the role of the State Attorney is to apply the law and enforce the law, not pick and choose which laws you like and which laws you don’t like. Okay, Judge, come on up.

Judge Susan Lopez: (37:24)
Thank you. Thank you. Good morning and thank you for being here today. I want to first thank Governor DeSantis for placing his trust in me to execute the duties of State Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit. I was caught off guard a couple of days ago when I got the call from the Governor. I was sitting very happily as a judge, which has been a life changing and fulfilling form of service. But when the Governor calls you to a different service, you answer. So here I am.

Judge Susan Lopez: (38:06)
I hold 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. It is my promise to the people of Hillsborough County that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office, and to ensure that we are fulfilling its purpose to prosecute crimes and protect the people of Hillsborough County, I will follow the rule of law. And to the hardworking people of the office of the State Attorney of Hillsborough County, I look forward to rejoining you in our shared mission to protect the people of Hillsborough County. Thank you very much.

DeSantis: (38:59)
Congratulations. I think it is true, don’t want to-

DeSantis: (39:03)
[inaudible 00:39:00] So I think it is true, you don’t want to have to be here, but we really believe that this is a law and order state. We are not going to back down from that one inch. We are not going to allow locally-elected people to veto what our state has decreed through our legislative process. And so, this is important. We’ve seen how this has impacted communities all across the country in a very negative way, and at the end of the day, when you take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, you must take care that our laws are faithfully executed, and that will start happening in Hillsborough County beginning today, okay? Are you going to ask on topic today?

Speaker 1: (39:42)
Yup, yup.

DeSantis: (39:42)

Speaker 2: (39:42)
Thank you so much for being here. You’ve made your case, you have some powerful supporters behind you right now, but Andrew Warren was elected by the people of Hillsborough County not once, but twice. So what do you say to the people in the community who say that you’re taking their vote away?

DeSantis: (40:01)
Well, the conduct that he has done has fell below the standard that’s required in the Florida Constitution. When you’re saying you’re not going to enforce certain laws you don’t like, that’s a neglect of duty. That, quite frankly, is incompetence as defined in Florida law. And Florida courts have been very clear that saying you’re just not going to enforce the law is, by definition, a dereliction of duty. And so what we’re doing is just as they said. I mean, in some respects, I’m here, I have to do this. I mean, that’s my job, to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, and so we have that process in place for a reason, because I think the people that framed our most recent Constitution understood that you would need to have some accountability.

DeSantis: (40:45)
And yes, I understand you have these processes, but quite frankly, we can go back and look at some of these elections and all the money that’s coming in from people that do not live in Florida and are really trying to push an agenda on the people of Florida, and I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically woke, where you’re deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced. I don’t think there’s very many people that believe that is consistent with the rule of law.

Speaker 3: (41:16)

DeSantis: (41:16)
Yes, sir?

Speaker 3: (41:16)
Governor, yesterday [inaudible 00:41:18] reported that there was an unattended ballot box in Broward County at the Broward [inaudible 00:41:22].

DeSantis: (41:21)
Well, before I do that, is there anyone else on this topic?

Speaker 4: (41:24)
Governor, Governor, Governor.

DeSantis: (41:25)

Speaker 4: (41:25)
During your deliberations on this decision that you made, did at any time you have a discussion with Andrew Warren or ask him to explain himself?

DeSantis: (41:33)
No, because I was looking at the actual facts that were provided to me. My office consulted with a lot of people. This was a statewide review to make sure that we were not going down the road of San Francisco, Los Angeles. And like 95% of it was all right here in Hillsborough. Everything anyone said was right here. I didn’t hear the same in Duval or Miami Dade or any of that, it was all right here. And then to see these blanket statements, like saying that you’re not going to enforce a prohibition on giving minor a sex change operation. A 12-year-old boy can’t go in and get a tattoo, but yet somehow if the legislature were to say that you can’t get a sex change operation?

DeSantis: (42:18)
And then we have laws that have been enacted, and so he was the only one that was making those types of declarations, he was the only one signing his name to letters that basically said, “To hell with the people of Florida, I’m going to do what I want.” We take care that the laws are faithfully executed. Not every law on the books in Florida do I agree with. I mean, it is what it is. And yes, there’s sometimes the legislature will put laws on my desk that I veto, and then it doesn’t become law. They have the ability to override, they haven’t done that yet. But that’s just the way the system works.

DeSantis: (42:53)
And for example, if it ever got to the point where I vetoed a piece of legislation and the legislature overrode it, I don’t think that’ll happen, but if it did, then I would be duty bound to enforce that law. I can’t just say, “You know what?” and throw a hissy fit and say, “Oh, I don’t think it’s good and I’m not going to enforce.” That’s not the way the law works. And if you look around the country, the root of a lot of the problems is that this idea has taken hold that you can be a law unto yourself as a prosecutor, that it doesn’t really matter what the legislature does if you believe that that law conflicts with your idiosyncratic vision of, quote, “social justice,” then that gives you veto authority, and that is not how a Constitutional system can operate, that is not how a rule of law can operate, and ultimately, you cannot have safe and strong communities if we’re not having enforcement of the law.

Speaker 5: (43:51)
There’s been criticism of Andrew Warren for a while from law enforcement officials, but what was it that led you to openly make this decision? Was it his signing that letter regarding not prosecuting abortion cases last month?

DeSantis: (44:02)
Well, as I said, as these problems around these country were coming to a head, I asked my office earlier this year to do a survey of what’s going on in Florida, to see, because not every prosecutor is going to write on a sheet of paper, “I’m not prosecuting, I’m going to ignore.” I mean, that’s a very egregious thing to do. But you will have sometimes policies which are de facto nullifications of the law. So they will say, “Well, you may be able to prosecute, but in circumstances that would never happen.” So it required them to go and do a lot of different things. But yes, when you have the 2021 letter saying, “No matter what a state declares about protecting child welfare with respect…” I mean, they use these euphemisms, but what it is, is they’re literally chopping off the private parts of young kids, and that’s wrong.

DeSantis: (44:54)
And we’re doing stuff administratively and with medical licenses, but the legislature in Florida may want to come in and do something more significant on that. Okay, well, you’re going to presumptively say you can’t do it? Some of the policies that have been in place. And then, after Dobbs comes down, when the Supreme Court said, “This is returned to the states,” to say that the laws that we have, you’re just not going to enforce any of them? And he drew no distinction. I mean, we’ve always had prohibition on third trimester abortion, we’ve always had prohibition, or at least for a while, on partial birth, and now the three and a half months, okay, that was a legislative debate. There were some people that had different views on it. The legislature passed it, I signed it, so that’s what you have to do.

DeSantis: (45:35)
So those are really, I think, egregious. And again, it’s beyond just exercising discretion, whereas discretion would be I may get an individual case and make a determination that we’re not going to go with prosecution because you have limited resources, what have you. Where it goes across the line is where that ends up being used to effectively nullify what the legislature has done, and clearly you’ve had that here in Hillsborough County.

DeSantis: (46:00)
All right, Javier, is that the Broward? So I just saw that this morning. We have now an Election Integrity Unit. We’ve got people that are investigating different things as these things come up. That’s exactly why we did this, because we can pass all the great laws we wanted in Florida. We’re very proud that we’ve made ballot harvesting a felony in the state of Florida. We’re very proud that we have voter ID not just for going in to vote in person, but for requesting an absentee ballot. We’re very proud that we were able to have penalties for counties if they don’t clean their voting rolls every year. And we’re very proud that we banned Zuckerbucks in the state of Florida. So those are all good.

DeSantis: (46:45)
Those are all great, but then the issue is, okay, you can have that, but if then people violate it and then there’s no accountability, then where does that leave us? And so that’s why we asked the legislature to enact an Election Integrity Unit in state government where we have investigators, we have law enforcement, we have the ability to work with the Attorney General’s Office, with our statewide prosecutor, to be able to hold people accountable if they’re not following the law. So we have very clear rules.

DeSantis: (47:13)
First of all, you cannot put drop boxes in the middle of the community in Florida anymore. We got rid of that. If someone wants to return an absentee ballot, they can drop it off at an election site, but wherever they’re putting in a ballot needs to be monitored by an election official the whole time. And there’s video coming out saying this thing’s just sitting there with no monitoring. That obviously is inconsistent with the law, so we have in place the ability to investigate this stuff, that is being done, and we’re going to make sure that our elections are done consistent with the laws of the state of Florida.

DeSantis: (47:50)
And you look around the country, they’ve been doing these elections in different parts this year, and you have an election, and then you have votes coming in for days and days. People don’t even know how many votes are out, it takes them forever to count, it’s a very opaque process. We don’t believe in that in Florida. We believe it’s got to be transparent, we believe you count the votes and you declare a winner on election night. It’s not that difficult to do. We’re one of the biggest states and we’re able to do it. Why can’t some of these other states do it?

DeSantis: (48:17)
So this is a very high priority, to make sure that what all the different 67 counties are doing is following the law of the state of Florida. And honestly, it’s not much different than the principle that brings us here today. I mean, yes, you can get elected to countywide office, but when you take office, you swear to uphold the laws and Constitution of the state of Florida. And so if you’re not doing that, well, then that’s something we need to have accountability and recourse for. Okay, well, thanks, everybody. We appreciate seeing you.

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