ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis suspending Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, VERIFY reviewed suspension orders previously issued by DeSantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott.
The Florida Constitution gives governors the power to suspend officials – elected or appointed – for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties and commission of a felony.”
The Florida Senate then decides if a suspended official should be reinstated or removed.
DeSantis has faced criticism for suspending Warren, who was twice elected to his position in Hillsborough County.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor blasted DeSantis, saying "removing a duly elected official should be based on egregious actions, not on political statements.”
Warren himself accused DeSantis of “trying to overthrow democracy.”
Has a Florida governor ever suspended an elected official who hasn’t been criminally charged with a crime?
Yes, elected officials who haven’t been criminally charged have been suspended before but it’s rare.
WHAT WE FOUND
During Scott’s eight years as Florida governor, he issued 50 suspension orders, according to a review of those orders by VERIFY.
Of those 50 suspensions, just one involved an elected official who wasn’t facing charges for a crime. That was former Broward County elections chief Brenda Snipes. She faced intense criticism after the 2018 November midterms for a slow vote count and other problems.
Snipes ultimately resigned after her suspension was rescinded by DeSantis.
So far, DeSantis has issued 19 suspensions since taking office in 2019.
Notably, his first three suspensions were issued just days into his term and all were for elected officials who had not been charged with a crime.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was suspended for his response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher and Okaloosa County Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson were also suspended.