Fascist-bot 9000, the president-ish candidate formerly known as Ron DeSantis, has now reached the point in his campaign where he’s grimly surveying the listless, mewling meatsicles blankly staring back at him on his life raft and trying to decide who to eat first. In other words, there’s still hope, but he’s going to need to ratchet up the evil if he’s going to stand a chance against Donald Trump.
Well, he’s doing just that, it seems. During last week’s GOP primary debate, which marked the candidates’ first chance to show the public they’re just as obscenely feral as Trump, DeSantis bragged about canning two “radical left-wing district attorneys” because they “wouldn’t do their job.” (It was either that or scream “Leeeeeeroy Jenkins!” and spontaneously bite the head off Asa Hutchinson, but that didn’t really work out during debate prep, so he went with the bit about firing two woke libs.)
But it turns out there’s a lot more to DeSantis’ boast than meets our already jaundiced eye—and none of the details make him look good. Or fair. Or anything approaching honest.
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The Daily Beast recently spoke with one of those suspended prosecutors, Orlando-area State Attorney Monique Worrell, who was reportedly dismissed “just as she was about to crack down on a wide-ranging cover-up by deputies who, she says, were faking documents to hide lethal and abusive behavior.”
“They thought that I was overly critical of law enforcement and didn't do anything against ‘real criminals,’” Worrell told The Daily Beast. “Apparently there’s a difference between citizens who commit crimes and cops who commit crimes.”
As Worrell tells it, the approximately 20 law enforcement agencies in Central Florida “were all working against me, because I was prosecuting their cops, the ones who used to do things and get away with them.” According to The Daily Beast, her account was supported by two other people who spoke with the outlet anonymously.
Worrell wasn’t the first prosecutor DeSantis removed, of course. Last year, DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren because Warren had said he wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against people who seek or provide abortions or gender transition care. Warren sued to get his job back, but a federal judge declined to reverse the dismissal despite acknowledging DeSantis had violated Florida’s constitution.
In the process, however, the public discovered DeSantis had also put Worrell in his crosshairs. The Daily Beast:
Just as DeSantis’ staff was readying to pounce on the Tampa prosecutor's office, Worrell began to get odd vibes from her own local sheriffs near Orlando—who seemed to be aligning themselves alongside the DeSantis administration, too.
It became most apparent on a Zoom call her executive staff had with Orlando County Sheriff John W. Mina and his top brass in July 2022, which was first uncovered by the Orlando Sentinel. “I was at home and had COVID. I got on the meeting, and the call was being recorded. No one told me in advance that it was going to be recorded. In that call, the sheriff's disposition was very aggressive and accusatory,” Worrell told The Daily Beast, describing what happened next as “an ambush.”
According to Worrell and another person with knowledge of the call, Mina began to pepper her with specific questions about cases that her office had failed to prosecute. The problem was, the cases actually reflected police misconduct and ineptitude, rather than forgiving or forgetful prosecutors. For example, both said the Orlando County sheriff complained about the state attorney’s failure to jail a particular known gang member fresh out of prison who was caught with a gun in his car. However, Worrell’s staff on the call countered that description of the case, noting that the felon had actually been illegally accosted by detectives who spotted him at a gun show, where they demanded to know what he was doing out free, followed him into the parking lot, and proceeded to break every rule in the book.
As Worrell notes, she was actually upholding the law—and the U.S. Constitution—rather than intentionally flouting it.
“They took him into custody—without a warrant. Went into his pants pocket—without a warrant. Clicked key fob—without warrant. Went in—without warrant,” Worrell told The Daily Beast. “There’s this little thing called ‘unreasonable search and seizure,’ and you can’t get evidence without a warrant. We were unable to go forward with charges because it was an illegal search and seizure. And we had lots of communication with the sheriff’s office about this case, trying to salvage the case. As the state attorney, we’re not here to rubber-stamp what the sheriff’s office does. We can’t condone that.”
From there, DeSantis’ office appears to have conducted a pressure campaign to oust Worrell, “fishing for the very statistics and cases it could wave around to justify her removal,” according to The Daily Beast.
In one case, Osceola Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez collected statistics that “became the backbone to the governor’s eventual executive order plucking Worrell from office.” The document noted that only 3 out of 32 people arrested for drug trafficking had received mandatory minimum prison sentences. However, as The Daily Beast notes, the statistics “were stretched beyond belief, counting as failures even cases resulting from December 2022 arrests that weren’t magically finished in court three months later in March.”
But while DeSantis is using these firings to burnish his “anti-woke” bona fides, his true motivation may be even more sinister. At the time of the firing, Worrell’s investigators were reportedly at the tail end of a corruption investigation into the Osceola County sheriff’s office, “and the interruption would be welcome relief to majors who kept phoning friends at the State Attorney’s office nervously checking for updates in recent weeks.”
“As we were investigating, there was all sorts of illegal activity that started coming up: officers signing each other’s reports, getting them notarized in someone else’s name when they signed them themselves, fraudulent documents,” Worrell told The Daily Beast.
Of course, Worrell’s case is just the latest in a chilling series of right-wing efforts to remove prosecutors who don’t toe the line. Republicans in the Georgia legislature appear eager to test a new state law that gives a newly created state commission the power to remove prosecutors. State Sen. Clint Dixon has indicated he’ll file a complaint against Fani Willis, who has charged Trump with multiple felonies over his efforts to steal the 2020 election, when the commission launches in October.
“Once the Prosecutorial Oversight Committee is appointed in October, we can have them investigate and take action against Fani Willis and her efforts that weaponize the justice system against political opponents,” Dixon wrote on social media.
Meanwhile, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz recently introduced a censure resolution targeting U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who’s overseeing Trump’s federal trial for (allegedly!) attempting to snuff out American democracy.
In other words, the party of law and order is pretty selective about the laws it wants to enforce, and the only order it really cares about is the old one, where cops could get away with pretty much anything they wanted to and no one batted an eye.
Of course, despite DeSantis’ dogged attempts to somehow sink lower than Trump, his presidential prospects just keep plummeting, and Wednesday’s debate was just another example. Let’s hope DeSantis quits before his politically hyped law-and-order agenda turns Florida into just another lawless police state.
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