Impeachment. Impeachment. Impeachment.
That was the drama that dominated Washington, D.C. this week as Democrats backed impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
But in the nation’s largest swing state, Florida Republicans’ support of the president remained unwavering, with some GOP officials using the unfolding events to raise money.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose 2018 election can be greatly attributed to an endorsement from Trump, was among the Republicans who sent out blast fundraising emails, asking supporters to contribute money to help defend the president.
On the day the governor sent the email on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida, he also told reporters the impeachment proceedings were a “charade” and wished Democrats would “focus on issues that really matter.”
Following Thursday’s unveiling of a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump pressured Ukraine’s leader to help him in the 2020 election, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also took shots at Democrats.
Scott said the impeachment proceedings are Democrats’ “entire legislative agenda” and that Democrats can’t “get over” the fact they lost to Trump in 2016.
Meanwhile, Rubio tweeted Friday morning that he intends to “avoid hysteria, red herrings & straw men” and will “learn the facts before forming opinions.”
FLORIDA SENATE FACES BIG DECISION
After a special master recommended the Florida Senate reinstate suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, DeSantis said he hopes senators will hold Israel accountable for his “incompetence” and that the issue is a “very, very clear choice.”
The recommendation by Special Master Dudley Goodlette was a stunning blow to the governor, whose decision to suspend Israel was one of his first acts after taking office in January.
DeSantis blamed Israel’s “incompetence” for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 students and faculty members dead in February 2018, citing issues such as the sheriff’s policies, procedures and training for active shooter situations.
But Goodlette, a former Republican lawmaker appointed special master by Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, found the governor failed to prove allegations of neglect of duty and incompetence connected to the school massacre and another mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport..
“Overall, the evidence presented to me suggests it was individual failures that plagued the Stoneman Douglas response, not neglect or incompetence by Sheriff Israel,” Goodlette wrote in a 34-page report.
The Senate has the authority to remove or reinstate Israel, who was elected to the post in Broward County. Galvano ordered a special session of the Senate to be held from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25 to decide the suspended sheriff’s fate..
DESANTIS ALLY TAPPED AS CHIEF JUDGE
In one of his earliest --- and most far-reaching --- actions as the state’s chief executive, DeSantis reshaped the Florida Supreme Court, with the appointment of three justices who have cemented a decidedly conservative majority.
And now, DeSantis has delivered the same brand of conservative jurisprudence to an administrative court system that has been a go-to place for citizens and businesses to redress grievances against state agencies.
DeSantis, backed by Attorney General Ashley Moody and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, appointed lawyer John MacIver this week as chief judge of the state Division of Administrative Hearings.
MacIver is head of the local chapter of The Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal organization in Florida and nationally.
Before he was chosen by DeSantis and the Republican Cabinet members, MacIver said his goal was to hire administrative law judges “who have the correct judicial philosophy.” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, was the lone Cabinet holdout on the appointment, saying MacIver lacks experience to hold the post.
In his new role, MacIver will have the ability to hire and fire administrative law judges and assign cases. The division handles cases ranging from big-money fights involving gambling operators and medical-marijuana companies to a dispute about bakers who refused to make a pastry with an anti-gay slogan.
TROUBLE IN THE TRANSPORTATION WORLD
A former executive director of a state transportation commission has filed a lawsuit alleging she was forced to resign in retaliation for exposing a $5.5 billion budget “irregularity” proposed by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Teddi Pitts also accused the chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the lawsuit filed last week in Leon County circuit court.
Pitts resigned as executive director of the commission in January after working for the state for nearly 30 years, starting as a mail clerk at the Department of Transportation and later holding staff positions in the Legislature.
While working for the commission, Pitts “identified and reported defendants’ violations of one or more law (sic), rules, regulations and/or malfeasance, misfeasance, and/or gross misconduct, and thereafter was subject to retaliation by defendants,” the lawsuit, filed by Tallahassee attorney Marie Mattox, alleges.
The lawsuit accuses commission members Ronald Howse and Jay Trumbull, as well as former Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew and his chief of staff, Shannan Schuessler, of retaliating against Pitts and accuses Howse of sexual harassment.
STORY OF THE WEEK: A special master recommended the Florida Senate reinstate suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, delivering a blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis who suspended Israel in January.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Looks like the governor’s mansion will have to stay baby-proofed for a little while longer.” --- Gov. Ron DeSantis on announcing First Lady Casey DeSantis is pregnant with their third child.