HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA — Recently suspended state attorney Andrew Warren leveraged his official office to liaise with the Florida Democratic party and used taxpayer dollars to fund events related to his activism. After being suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis last week, former state attorney Andrew Warren held a press conference today to rally support as he vowed to fight back against the “injustice” of his suspension.
On August 5th, Orlando Weekly zeroed in on Warren’s signature on a letter stating that he would not uphold Florida’s laws regarding abortions post-15 weeks of pregnancy – language that does not exist in the governor’s executive order.
Warren has not yet been accused of any crime, but the case against him continues to mount. The Florida Standard obtained records in a request for public information related to Andrew Warren, the Florida Democratic Party, and others.
According to this documentation, Warren and staff, under his direction, used his official office and resources to liaise with the Florida Democratic Party in pursuit of his controversial policies of “Fair and Just Prosecution.” Warren also used taxpayer money to fund meetings and events, including travel across the US from 2017 to 2022, according to a high-level source at the state attorney’s office. When asked about this at his press conference in Tallahassee by Neil Mcabe from OANN, Warren responded “if your question isn’t about the lawsuit I’m not taking the question.”
DEMOCRATIC TASK FORCE
In a September 15, 2021 press release, the Florida Democratic Party announced a task force focused on judicial reform. “To bring Florida’s justice system into the 21st century,’ new safety & justice task force will travel the state gathering ideas from local leaders, law enforcement, and victim advocates.”
The newly formed task force announced its chair would be Andrew Warren, state attorney of Hillsborough County. “Florida needs a statewide conversation on how we build a better, more effective criminal justice system,” the release noted.
The task force focused on “prioritizing prosecuting the greatest threats to communities, with alternatives to put low-level offenders back on the right path.” The creation of the task force in Florida, in affiliation with the national group Fair and Just Prosecution, was influenced by Miriam Krinsky, a former prosecutor in Los Angeles and executive director of the national group.
Warren was chosen as chair because he “has reformed Hillsborough’s criminal justice system and become a state and national leader on criminal justice reform,” the Democratic Party stated in the release.
ACTIVISM OVER RULE OF LAW
The movement describes itself as “a new generation of elected prosecutors that have emerged with a powerful vision to transform the criminal legal system,” their website states. According to the site, “Ms. Krinsky has extensive experience in system change and reform of criminal justice institutions, policies, and practice.”
In November of 2021, the task force announced additional members: Public Defender Carlos Martinez (Miami-Dade County/Miami); Sheriff Walt McNeil (Leon County/Tallahassee); Marcia Brown, Executive Director, Teen Leaders of America (Duval County/Jacksonville); Asha Terminello, MS, Chief Executive Officer, ACTS, the Agency for Community Treatment Services (Hillsborough County/Tampa).
But what began as a think tank on improving safety for Florida families quickly became a quasi-official office operating out of the 13th Judicial Circuit and promoting activism over the rule of law.
USE OF OFFICIAL RESOURCES
The task force issued a press release announcing its first official meeting in Miami on March 10, 2022. The release was issued by Grayson Kamm, chief communications officer for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, in his official capacity and via his state email address. The release focused on the issue of gun violence, the topic for the meeting. The Florida Standard reached out to Grayson Kamm, but he has not responded to our request for comment.
In his official capacity, Warren held three additional task force meetings in 2022 funded by the office of the state attorney: April 20 in Tampa, May 19 in Jacksonville, and July 20 in Orlando.
Under Warren’s direction, Kamm organized the task force events, acted as communications chief, and used taxpayer funds to hold meetings across the state. Funds from the state attorney’s office were used to set up venues and fund travel for Warren and his staff, records show. After Kamm left the state attorney’s office, Melanie Snow-Waxler became communications chief in May 2022.
Waxler traveled with Warren to Jacksonville and Orlando to organize both meetings. But Warren was dissatisfied with Wexler’s performance – he felt that the task force needed to gain more traction and popularity, a source at the state attorney’s office told The Florida Standard.
While most of the email communications related to the task force passed through the email address [email protected], records show that Warren also used a personal Gmail address in some contacts.
TRIPS PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS
Warren and his staff made at least six trips across the country to attend events held by Fair and Just Prosecutions, paid for by local taxpayers back in Florida. Records show that Warren traveled to Seattle in July 2017, Boston in September 2017, New York in August 2018, Houston in December 2018, New York in September 2021, and Washington DC in May 2022.
PLANS TO CHALLENGE DESANTIS
The Democratic former prosecutor for Hillsborough County has gained thousands of social media followers in the past week while railing against the state administration.
Warren claims that the governor has no grounds to remove him from office and maintains that he is a twice-elected official by residents of Hillsborough County. He plans to challenge DeSantis’ executive order in a court motion arguing the governor has exceeded his executive authority.
In his executive order, DeSantis suspended him for “incompetence” and “neglect of duty” and referenced Warren’s “blanket policies” where he publicly announced that he would not prosecute certain crimes.
The Florida Senate can reverse the governor’s decision if they think the suspension has no merit. According to Senate records, a Florida governor has suspended more than 165 state or county officials since 1999. The Senate has only overrode a suspension by a governor once.
Read the documents below: