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DeSantis removed Tampa’s top prosecutor for ‘defiance’ on abortion law, but not Broward Sheriff Tony for outspoken opposition to anti-riot law

tony
Gregory Tony and Andrew Warren
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, right, and suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren. Gov. Ron DeSantis has treated their ‘defiance’ to new laws he backed differently.

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

When Gov. Ron DeSantis removed and replaced Tampa-area State Attorney Andrew Warren last month, he said he acted because Warren had essentially gone rogue – declaring publicly that he would not waste resources to prosecute abortion providers or doctors who provide gender-affirming care to transsexual youth or their parents.

“As a result of his open and notorious repudiation and nullification of Florida law, as well as his blatant defiance of the Florida Legislature, Warren can no longer be trusted to fulfill his oath of office and his duty to see that Florida law is faithfully executed,” says DeSantis’s Aug. 4 executive order removing Warren as Hillsborough County’s top prosecutor.

Yet DeSantis did not act last year after Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony showed similar public defiance about enforcing the anti-riot law enacted in the wake of nationwide protests demanding justice following the 2020 deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY at the hands of police.

That controversial law, known as state House Bill 1 or the “Combating Public Disorder Act,” redefined a riot, established new crimes for “mob intimidation” and “cyber intimidation,” and increased penalties for crimes committed during a “violent assembly.” DeSantis signed the get-tough law in flamboyant fashion on April 19, 2021.

Within days, the Sun-Sentinel, CBS12 in West Palm Beach and other news outlets obtained an internal Broward Sheriff’s Office email instructing deputies to steer clear of enforcing the anti-riot law without specific approval from higher-ups.

Colonel David Holmes

The email was sent by Col. David Holmes, BSO’s executive director of law enforcement, to the agency’s district captains saying the new anti-riot law could hurt BSO’s relations with the community. BSO does not want “overzealous deputies utilizing the new law to conduct enforcement that could violate people’s civil liberties,” Holmes wrote, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

TONY SPEAKS

The news stoked local public debate. And on April 30, 2021, Sheriff Tony discussed his thoughts about the anti-riot law on the Brian Mudd Show on WIOD radio.

“I spoke early on about my opposition against it, meaning that we didn’t really need any other legislation to do our job. There’s a multitude of different legislation that has been on the books for decades and we’ve been effective handling any type of civil unrest. So, in my opinion, there was no great need for it here in Broward County. The community felt the same way,” Tony said.

Gov. DeSantis, who personally hatched the idea for the anti-riot law, said nothing.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker barred DeSantis, Tony and sheriffs in Leon and Duval counties from enforcing the anti-riot law in September after several civil rights groups, including Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, sued, arguing it violated constitutional equal protection and First Amendment rights. DeSantis appealed and the 11th Circuit in Atlanta heard oral arguments in March. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Florida’s anti-riot law is gaining international notoriety. Last week, the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about “reports of increasing legislative measures and initiatives at the state level that unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly following anti-racism protests in recent years, such as the HB 1 Combating Public Disorder law in Florida.”

Gov. DeSantis after signing Florida’s anti-riot law on April 19, 2021

Also last month, suspended State Attorney Warren sued Gov. DeSantis in federal court to get his job back.

Warren, elected twice by voters, argued DeSantis violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech and abused his power by removing him from office for political reasons.

DeSantis replaced Warren, a Democrat, with local Judge Susan Lopez, a Republican who promptly said she would revoke many of Warren’s policies.

ETHICS COMMISSION AND TONY

And Monday marks the date when Sheriff Tony will have exactly 28 months remaining in his four-year term. Rumors have been flying lately that DeSantis has had enough of Tony’s tumultuous reign as sheriff and wants to remove him. Beginning Tuesday, state law grants DeSantis the power to replace Tony should he decide to remove him.

The latest hint of the governor’s possible intentions came Friday when it was learned that on Sept. 9 Florida’s ethics commission will consider the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s case against Tony for repeatedly lying under oath while obtaining driver’s licenses.

Ethics commission staff has conducted its own investigation of the FDLE’s case and will make a presentation with recommendations to the commission in a non-public session. The commission will report its decision at a later public meeting.

The frequently lethargic ethics commission’s seemingly aggressive posture in Tony’s case has surprised some in law enforcement. Knowledgeable sources, noting the timing, took it as a sign that DeSantis gave the ostensibly independent ethics commission his blessing to proceed.

“All he needs is an excuse if he’s going to do it,” one source said.

Tony is currently fighting the same charges of lying under oath before Florida’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. In June, a three-member CJSTC panel found “probable cause” to believe the allegations against Tony were true and that his license to be a police officer should be revoked.

In that case, Tony has invoked his right to a full administrative hearing in Tallahassee. The case has not yet been filed at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).

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Latest comments

  • The directive from the Broward guy seems substantially different.

    The Hillsborough DA said he WON’T enforce a particular law and signed on to a national letter stating this.

    The Broward guy directed his deputies to obtain SPECIFIC approval from above BEFORE applying enforcement of a particular law.

    Big Difference, IMHO. I’m learning in recent weeks that “BullDog” is but another partisan, and anti conservative, left wing rag.

  • Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Ron DeSantis is not going to admit his mistake and get rid of Mr Honesty and Integrity. Ron wants to be President so naturally he doesn’t have the spine to remove Sheriff LSD. I’ll say it again, the law gets applied differently depending on who you are and how politics comes in to play. Greg “I can’t remember how many times my license was suspended Tony” is here to stay. I do enjoy watching the videos of him in full uniform dancing like he’s hugging a stripper pole. There’s a positive in every situation. P.S. The Ethics Commission is going to give him a pass.

  • The political agenda may be stronger than the right thing to do. I guess we will see. September 5th is the line in the sand for DeSantis to take action, that is tomorrow. C’mon Ron, ear MY vote, and remove this clown. THAT will prove your strength as a leader.

  • DE SANTIS has lost it. He is the worst governor we have had. I have been here for 22 years and never have we had such dissention . He is a TRUMPER gone wild. If you disagree with both De Santis and Trump YOURE FIRED……….Vote for CHARLIE CRIST.

  • Let’s not forget the 35? sheriffs who are refusing to enforce the Red Flag, other gun laws!
    And can’t wait to see DeSantis use the riot laws against the coming MAGA riots as Chump gets charged, arrested for stealing millions in Government property, Trying to rig the Georgia vote you all know he did, the only question is how many others get arrested, jailed with him.
    What does it say about repubs they/you are good with that?
    And if you think people are not watching and are getting madder at repubs, you are going to be badly surprised as women, young, independents and what is left of decent republicans just say no to the far right and kick your butt.
    And DeSantis is a full blown Fascist proven by how many of his laws get thrown out by repub courts even as so extreme. I’d bet even with all the money, power, lies Crist beats him as no one likes a real fascist who has contempt for his fellow repubs even who disagree on even 1 thing gets DeSantis full rath, punishment.
    Is that who you want for a leader?

  • DESANTIS WILL NEVER REMOVE “SHERIFF LSD” (LOVE IT FULLER!) HE STANDS TO LOSE WAY TOO MUCH POLITICALLY, AND HE WOULD NEVER ADMIT TO “WRONGDOING” IN PLACING THIS MURDERER AS SHERIFF.
    THE PARKLAND PARENTS WOULD BE UPSET OVER HIS REMOVAL; ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY ALL SUPPORTED TONY’S APPOINTMENT AND STOOD NEXT TO DESANTIS WHILE PARKLAND STUDENT SHOOTING VICTIM’S (MEADOW/R.I.P) FATHER ANDREW POLLACK (TONY’S GYM BUDDY WHO RECOMMENDED TONY/TONEY TO DESANTIS) MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIS APPOINTMENT…REAL GOOD LEADER; HE (DESANTIS) SUSPENDS FOUR WHITE MIDDLE-AGED WOMEN FROM THE BROWARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, FOR “ALLEGED” INCOMPETENCE, BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE THE BALLS TO REMOVE SHERIFF TONY WHO COMMITTED PERJURY ON SEVERAL POLICE APPLICATIONS, ADMITTED TO BEING AN LSD USER, AND COMMITTED A HOMICIDE AS A JUVENILE. GREAT POLITICAL DECISIONS! ENOUGH SAID.

  • Les, I voted for Trump in 16 and 20. I’m not a liberal. Google FDLE Greg Tony Summary Report. It takes about 20 minutes to thoroughly read. It’s disturbing who DeSantis put in office. Greg Tony has no business in uniform. The truth is it doesn’t matter what anyone on this thread thinks, me included. Greg Tony is not going anywhere. Ron DeSantis is running for President and we are stuck with Sheriff Accountability and Standards. The whole thing is a joke.

  • Sheriff Tony will be ousted by the end of this week. Timing is everything and in this case advantageous for Desantis.

  • Ahhh, another liberals writer who just doesn’t understand. The prosecutor REFUSED to do his job, he doesn’t get to decide which laws he enforces. The Sheriff simply made his opinion known but didn’t REGUSE to enforce the law. It’s a big difference. DeSantis is the best Governor in the USA.

  • Ummm…. Did Chris Walton From Transit ever “get back to you” before he retired? Bet Sheriff Tony doesn’t either!! Bull dog or Lap dog? (anyone remember Ken Jenne running for Insurance Commissioner?) You folks have NO idea how nice it is NOT to be in Broward! Florida’s WEST coast is the BEST coast!!!

  • Shawn, from your mouth to God’s ear but thats a pretty bold statement. Usually some names get leaked or it gets leaked that the governor has a list of candidates for the position but I don’t believe any of that is being discussed yet. However, I pray to god you’re right and that he’s gone by Friday.

  • DeSantis will do nothing to harm a GQP. How many times are the people is FL going to watch this authoritarian march across the state and abuse his power by firing every Democrat in any office? How many Proud Boys and QAnon Mom’s for Liberty are going to be placed in the positions to carry out DeSantis’ indoctrination of our children. Our children our greatest asset, only if they learn there are no blacks, Jews and the proven history of the US, but what DeSantis wants it to be.
    When has a governor attacked a business in his own state? DeSantis does it everyday. Going so far as to have his legislative minions, go online to drive down the stock price.
    I shake my head to anyone that votes for these actions. Do you know what you are creating or will you turn a blind eye for the party.

  • If Ron DeSantis was going to remove him he would’ve by now. There’s been plenty of reasons to do so. Ron DeSantis wants to be President but doesn’t have the courage to remove his mistake, no thanks. I’m a Republican but Ron DeSantis doesn’t deserve my vote. Sheriff LSD/Swinger/Liar/Bid Rigger/Suspended D/L/Homicide Record etc etc etc is here to stay. We get to listen to this bum tell us how important honesty is, COMICAL!!!!!!

  • In two months early voting will be wrapping up and Nov 8 the day, let Charlie Crist lead FL and give Ron DeSantis the full time job of seeking Republican nomination for president. Floridians deserve a Governor that is focused on FL, not 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

  • Fuller, WELL SAID! DISGUSTING SITUATION…and to think that DeSantis was an “attorney” while he served as an officer in the Navy!

  • Stopping someone from blatant disobedience of the laws of the state that has sworn to uphold them is a bit different from freedom of speech.

  • The Tampa state attorney didn’t refuse to enforce the law; he only signed a pledge that he was not inclined to prosecute such cases. This is another example of DeSantis “pulling a Disney” on someone to feed his base their daily dose of red meat.

  • Well, all the dates, committees and reviews have passed. And crickets … This turd isn’t going anywhere and Desantis is too busy playing God to visit this topic again.

  • True dat Montana!

  • Watch The Ethics Commission and Gov DeSantis kick the Greg Tony can down the road tomorrow afternoon. Ron DeSantis will not get my vote, spineless.

  • So who is paying for Tony’s attorneys? He was broke before he became sheriff. Is it being paid by his campaign funds? I noticed in a previous article he had PBA attorneys. Is the PBA paying for this?

  • “SPINELESS” INDEED FULLER!

  • I’m with you Fuller. I’m a lifelong republican, but I’ll be damned if Desantis gets my vote. I lived here under Crist and he’s not horrible. But he gets my vote, and anyone else’s I can persuade. I voted for Desantis and kick my own ass on a daily basis for it. PS- You and I worked at the same place at the same level. I understand brother… Be well

  • Fuller, I’m like you. Ill believe it when I see it. HOWEVER, the Ethics Commission, who’s typically in a coma, appears to be supercharged on this case. Im thinking because Desantis has blessed it. Possibly even meaning he’s had enough of this degenerate assclown in a uniform. Make no mistake, I’m a lifelong republican and voted for Desantis, but Crist gets my vote, and anyone else’s I can convince. In fact, there is nobody I wouldn’t vote for if they ran against Desantis. PS- You and I worked at the same place, at the same level. So I feel exactly as you do, brother. Take care

  • Sorry for the repeat post folks. My first post was quite delayed and I didn’t think it registered. Be well and let’s hope that Linx has very few Fridays left in Broward. Cheers

  • Just for the record I was half right. DeSantis is giving him a pass. We will see what The Ethics Commission recommends. Hopefully I’m wrong about them.

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