An elected Democratic prosecutor whose removal Ron DeSantis boasted about during the first Republican presidential debate said the hard-right Florida governor and his allies ousted her because she was “prosecuting their cops”.
Law enforcement agencies in central Florida were “all working against me”, Monique Worrell told the Daily Beast, “because I was prosecuting their cops, the ones who used to do things and get away with them”.
She added: “They thought that I was overly critical of law enforcement and didn’t do anything against ‘real criminals’. Apparently, there’s a difference between citizens who commit crimes and cops who commit crimes.”
DeSantis has long polled second to Donald Trump in national and key state surveys of the Republican primary but he remains far behind, most observers saying his campaign is stalling.
Worrell previously responded to her removal by calling DeSantis a “weak dictator” seeking to create a “smokescreen for [a] failing and disastrous presidential campaign”.
In his debate-stage boast in Wisconsin last week, DeSantis blamed “hollowed-out cities … a symptom of America’s decline” on “radical leftwing district attorneys [who] say they’re not going to prosecute crimes they disagree with”.
“There’s one guy in this entire country that’s ever done anything about that,” he said. “Me, when we had two of these district attorneys in Florida … who said they wouldn’t do their job, I removed them from their post. They are gone and as president, we are going to go after all of these people.”
Speaking to the Beast, in a report published on Monday, Worrell said an “ambush” by the governor’s law enforcement allies preceded the decision to fire her, including a recorded call in which the Orlando county sheriff complained about a failure to jail a known gang member who was caught with a gun.
Worrell told the site: “They took him into custody – without a warrant. Went into his pants pocket – without a warrant. Clicked key fob – without a warrant. Went in [to his car] – without warrant.
“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.”
Worrell also told the Beast that at the time she was fired, for what DeSantis called “neglect of duty and incompetence”, her team was uncovering “all sorts of illegal activity” in an investigation of the Osceola County sheriff.
Saying she would soon decide whether to sue to get her job back, Worrell also said she was planning to run for re-election next year – a race that would likely pit her against DeSantis’s hand-picked replacement.
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