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Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried Slams Ron DeSantis for Coddling Insurrectionists

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Following new reporting from USA Today revealing that Ron DeSantis appointed a January 6 insurrectionist to a statewide regulatory board, Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried released the following statement:
“Coddling and promoting extremists and insurrectionists is par for the course with Ron DeSantis, who STILL refuses to acknowledge that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to this day. His willingness to surround himself with people who violently rioted at the Capitol and lodged attacks on law enforcement just to boost his national ambitions shows that there’s no limit to how low he’ll go in the race for the MAGA base.”
USA Today: She stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Then Gov. Ron DeSantis made her a state regulator
Key Points:
  • It was Jan. 6, 2021, and a group of die-hard Republicans from Okaloosa County, Florida, had traveled 15 hours north to Washington, for a rally where President Donald Trump urged his followers to try to stop the certification of the election.
  • After the rally, as a crowd marched toward the Capitol, some of the Florida contingent peeled off. But Sandra Atkinson – who had just been elected chair of the county’s Republican Party – kept marching.
  • According to a USA TODAY review of multiple videos from the day and an interview with a close Republican Party associate, Atkinson proceeded to the Capitol and through the doors. The same kind of activity has led to criminal charges for many who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6 – charges for unlawful entry, picketing or other nonviolent acts.
  • Two months later, Atkinson’s name emerged in bold type, in an announcement from DeSantis. She was being given a new job: The governor was appointing her to a statewide regulatory board.
  • Giving a political appointment then to a Jan. 6 participant puts DeSantis’ core political dilemma in sharp focus now.
  • The governor, who is expected to enter the race for the presidential nomination this week, said nothing during Atkinson’s appointment about her role in the insurrection, which was spurred by his main political rival: Trump. His office now declines to answer any questions about what DeSantis knew about Atkinson before her appointment or during her time as a regulator.
  • Contacted by USA TODAY, Atkinson at first denied she had entered the Capitol. She then said she declined to comment. But to others, her role in Jan. 6 was no secret.
  • Sherri Edwards Cox, who has long served with Atkinson on the Okaloosa County GOP committee, also marched in Washington, though she says she went back to her hotel rather than into the Capitol. Cox told USA TODAY Atkinson later bragged about going into the building, and claimed to have entered the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • Atkinson’s apparent role in the insurrection does not appear to have interfered with her public role as an influential North Florida Republican. She was reelected chairwoman of the Okaloosa County GOP in December 2022. And she remained in the state oversight role DeSantis had given her for nearly a year.
  • Even when she did finally depart the board, there was no public discussion of her activity on Jan. 6.
  • Among the thousands of demonstrators marching for Trump Jan. 6, and the many of them who ultimately stormed the Capitol, it can be hard to isolate a specific face or name. But a collection of evidence points to Atkinson’s presence inside the building.
  • Atkinson’s trip to Washington for the rally was also well-known. She was one of the chief organizers of the local caravan to Washington. (In March 2021, when a man from Okaloosa County was arrested for entering the Capitol, Atkinson distanced herself from him, saying she didn’t know him and that he didn’t travel with her group.)
  • DeSantis’ office repeatedly declined to answer questions from USA TODAY about what it knew about Atkinson, why he appointed her, and why she later left the board.

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Governor DeSantis vetoed Housing for Legally Verified Agricultural Workers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed CS/SB 1082 Housing for Legally Verified Agricultural Workers.

Florida’s agriculture industry was hoping a newly passed bill that would limit local regulations on farmworker housing will bolster efforts to bring in more non-immigrant foreign workers.

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State Attorney Andrew Warren Announces New Wave of Endorsements from Esteemed Legislators and Elected Leaders

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Tampa, FL – State Attorney Andrew Warren’s re-election campaign is proud to announce another significant round of endorsements from distinguished current and former legislators and elected leaders. This new wave of support highlights the broad and diverse coalition rallying behind Andrew Warren’s leadership and vision to make Hillsborough County safer, fight for victims, and improve the criminal justice system.

Among those endorsing State Attorney Warren are:

  • Hon. Betty Castor, Former Florida Commissioner of Education and State Senator

  • Hon. Pat Frank, Former State Senator and Hillsborough Clerk of Courts

  • Hon. Les Miller, Former State Senator and Hillsborough County Commissioner

  • Hon. E.J. Salcines, Former State Attorney and Judge of the Second District Court of Appeal

  • Hon. Rod Smith, Former State Attorney and State Senator

  • Rep. Dianne Hart, Florida House of Representatives

  • Rep. Susan Valdes, Florida House of Representatives

  • Hon. Ben Diamond, Former State Representative

  • Hon. Adam Hattersley, Former State Representative

  • Hon. Ed Narain, Former State Representative

  • Hon. Sean Shaw, Former State Representative and Insurance Consumer Advocate

Reflecting on his achievements and the collaborative efforts that have driven his office’s success, Warren stated, “I’m incredibly honored to have the support of so many distinguished public servants. They know I’ll reverse the alarming increase in crime over the past two years and make Hillsborough safer—just as I did before.”

During Warren’s time in office, crime dropped 32%, making Hillsborough the safest large county in Florida. Under Warren’s leadership, the State Attorney’s Office launched several groundbreaking initiatives that made our neighborhoods safer and protected victims, including:

  • Disarming Domestic Abusers, in which the State Attorney’s Office aggressively prosecuted domestic abusers to take guns from them and protect survivors of domestic violence.

  • The Victims’ Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment that Warren championed and ultimately was passed by voters across Florida to protect the rights of crime victims.

  • The Conviction Review Unit, which exonerated an innocent man wrongfully incarcerated for 37 years and charged the actual perpetrators who had committed a spree of murders in the 1980s.

This announcement follows a haul of more than $210,000 raised during his first 45 days on the campaign trail and the endorsements received from Tampa Bay regional political leaders.

First elected in 2016 by defeating a 16-year incumbent, State Attorney Warren is seeking re-election to a third term as State Attorney for Hillsborough County, Florida. Warren, a Democrat, points to his proven record of reduced crime, increased public safety, and improvements to the justice system. Warren is a former federal prosecutor and a champion of effective criminal justice policy, focused on balancing punishment, accountability, prevention, and rehabilitation to maximize public safety.

For more information about the campaign, please visit AndrewWarrenFL.com

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Politics

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Endorses Gayle Harrell for Senate District 31

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STUART – Governor Ron DeSantis today endorsed Gayle Harrell for Senate District 31. Harrell currently represents the Treasure Coast district, which includes Martin County and parts of Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties.
“Governor Ron DeSantis has admirably led our great state through a global pandemic, devastating storms and Joe Biden’s disastrous economy. I am proud of the work we have done together to keep Florida free, and honored to have our great Governor’s endorsement,” said Harrell.”

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