A big case against DeSantis heads to court – POLITICO

Hello and welcome to Monday.

Happening today — While a great deal of attention continues to surround Gov. Ron DeSantis’ relocation of roughly 50 migrants to Massachusetts, a federal court is going to wade into his contentious decision in August to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.

On the scene Warren and his attorneys will be in a Tallahassee courtroom this morning asking U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to reinstate Warren to his elected position.

Core argument Warren will argue that his First Amendment rights were violated because he was removed for reasons such as making a pledge to not prosecute women who violate Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban as well public statements opposing the criminalization of transgender people. Warren’s lawsuit also maintains the governor overstepped his legal authority and that if the court fails to act “it would give the governor limitless dictatorial power.”

Rebuttal — Lawyers for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody — who are representing the governor’s office — maintain that Warren was not engaged in “constitutionally protected speech” because his suspension is connected to his official duties. They also contend that Warren should not be allowed to challenge his suspension in federal court and that the proper place to contest the suspension is the Florida Senate.

In addition While the governor’s initial executive order suspending Warren said nothing about these cases, attorneys for the state also contend in their motion supporting DeSantis that Warren adopted internal policies that called for non-enforcement of certain criminal violations such as disorderly intoxication and trespassing. (DeSantis’ initial order did note Warren’s policy against prosecutions that arise from police stops of bicyclists and pedestrians — a policy meant to change direction after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice found that many of those who had been stopped were Black.)

What to expect It would be improbable (but not impossible) that Hinkle rules from the bench regarding the request for a preliminary injunction but he could easily drop a ruling during the middle of the fall campaign. Stay tuned.

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.

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WARM RECEPTION — “DeSantis gets standing ovation from GOP voters after flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard,” by CNN’s Steve Contorno: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking in Kansas on Sunday, gave every indication he intends to capitalize on the latest wave of attention that has followed from him sending migrants to Massachusetts last week. ‘This is a crisis. It’s now getting a little bit more attention,’ DeSantis said, earning a standing ovation as he talked about the southern border and nodding to the headlines he instigated when he flew 50 migrants from the border to Martha’s Vineyard. The reception DeSantis received in Kansas enforced the perception that last week’s ploy accomplished more than raising awareness for the border crisis or diverting migrants who may have eventually ended up in Florida (though none said that was their destination).”

MEANWHILE — “Trump fumes: DeSantis stole my plan for shipping migrants,” by Rolling Stone’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley: “Since the Florida Republican — possibly under false pretenses — flew migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Massachusetts, [former President Donald] Trump has pointedly complained to some of his closest associates that [Gov. Ron] DeSantis is attempting to take the national news cycle away from him, two sources with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump has fumed over all the praise DeSantis’ action has been receiving in influential conservative circles lately — such as on right-wing media like Fox News — and has privately accused DeSantis of doing this largely to generate a 2024 polling boost for himself among GOP voters.”

REQUEST — “Civil Rights lawyers ask Healey, Rollins to open criminal investigations into migrants’ plight,” by Boston Globe’s Laura Crimaldi: “Venezuelan migrants whose surprise journey to Martha’s Vineyard unwittingly thrust them into the nation’s divisive immigration debate met Saturday with pro bono attorneys at their temporary quarters on Cape Cod as a prominent civil rights group asked Massachusetts prosecutors to launch criminal investigations. The migrants, who arrived Friday at Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne, need immediate assistance with their immigration cases, as some are required to check in with immigration officials or appear in immigration courts as early as next week in places such as Texas, Virginia, and Washington, said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.”

WHERE IT STARTS— “‘Easy pickings’: In Texas town where Martha’s Vineyard ordeal began, few options for migrants,” by Miami Herald’s Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas: “The path to Martha’s Vineyard began in Eagle Pass. This tiny Texas town, located 2.5 hours of sweltering highway southwest of San Antonio, has become a common point of entry for asylum seekers from Central and South America. Among them: the 48 migrants who were unwittingly sent to the posh northeastern island by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week after many said a mysterious woman who identified herself as ‘Perla’ promised them jobs on the other end of the journey.”

Dems push DOJ to probe DeSantis over migrants. But there’s no easy legal answer, by POLITICO’s Shia Kapos, Lara Korte and Lisa Kashinsky

— “DeSantis wants to keep Venezuelan migrants from Florida. Some may end up here anyway,” by Miami Herald’s Ana Ceballos, Bianca Padró Ocasio and David Ovalle

— “Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas, by The Associated Press’ Rodrigue Ngowi, Gisela Salomon and Claudia Torrens

Who’s being cruel? Politicians debate use of migrants as pawns, by POLITICO’s Olivia Olander

— “Marjorie Taylor Greene to Gov. DeSantis: stop ‘shipping illegals all over the country,’ declare ‘invasion,’” by Florida Politics’ Jesse Scheckner

‘ON THE FRONT BURNER’— ‘Huge mistake’: DeSantis’ migrant transports could undercut support in South Florida, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to transport mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard earlier this week could hurt the Republican governor in November with a key constituency that the GOP has sought to win over. The move by DeSantis dominated the radio and television airwaves in South Florida — where large swaths of Hispanic voters live. One Spanish radio host loudly denounced the move and even compared DeSantis’ actions to that of deceased Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who relocated Cubans in the early ‘60s.

THE DESANTIS DOCTRINE — “Kansas should be ‘more like what Ron DeSantis has in Florida,’ Schmidt tells rally,” by Kansas City Star’s Katie Bernard: “Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sought to build his conservative credentials Sunday, appearing alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and pledging to mimic his policies if he is elected governor. ‘I want a future for our great state of Kansas that looks a whole lot more like Ron DeSantis has in Florida,’ Schmidt, a fellow Republican, said at a rally in Olathe. He promised to support DeSantis’ policies in schools — restricting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in early school grades, barring transgender athletes from girls sports and approving a ‘parents bill of rights.’”

— “Ron DeSantis predicts Wisconsin will adopt Florida-style government if Tim Michels ousts Tony Evers as governor,” by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck

WEIGHING INNational conservative groups pour money into local school board races, by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: A commercial that aired in Florida ahead of its August primary opened with a drag queen reading to children. Designed to attack a candidate for school board, the ad issued warnings about Democrats “indoctrinating” students and “teaching trans-ideology and anti-American critical race theory.” The spot didn’t come from another candidate running for the board in Central Florida. It wasn’t even paid for by a group from within the state. It was the American Principles Project’s first foray into a local school-focused race hundreds of miles from the super PAC’s headquarters in Arlington, Va.

PROMISES, PROMISES — “Rick Scott expresses optimism about midterms: ‘I’m 100 percent certain we’ll take back the Senate,’” by The Hill’s Chloe Folmar: “Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he is ‘100 percent certain’ Republicans will take the Senate in November. ‘I’m 100 percent certain we’ll take the Senate,’ said Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an interview with Gray Television White House correspondent Jon Decker airing this weekend. ‘I think we’re going to have a breakthrough.’”

BY THE NUMBERS Here’s the breakdown for the most recently filed fundraising totals in the governor’s race: DeSantis raised nearly $1.58 million during the period from Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, while Rep. Charlie Crist raised nearly $1.39 million. The totals include money raised for campaign accounts and for political committees controlled by the candidates.

Following the money The weekly total for DeSantis includes more than $338,000 in public matching money, while Crist received more than $225,000 in taxpayer support. DeSantis has now received more than $5.5 million in public money to assist his campaign while Crist has taken in $1.93 million.

In the bank DeSantis has more than $119.4 million unspent, according to state reports (which don’t reflect any future planned expenditures) while Crist has more than $5.1 million.

CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE— “Senior campaign advisor for Rep. Donalds involved in multiple confrontations on camera,” by NBC 2’s Dave Elias: “Disturbing videos sent to NBC2 reveal U.S. Congressman Byron Donalds and his senior campaign advisor involved in two separate confrontations. One of the videos shows Donalds fighting with a Collier County school board candidate on primary election night. The others show multiple angles of a confrontation involving Donalds campaign aide and the husband of the Collier School Board Candidate Kelly Lichter. There are more than half a dozen different videos and camera angles involving two different arguments.Both of the incidents center on the school board candidate Lichter who is suing Donald’s wife.”

— “President Biden to speak at a DNC rally in Orlando at the end of the month,” by Spectrum News staff

— “Florida Democrats face big hurdles in wooing Hispanic voters,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello

— “Can Democrat take back Pinellas House seat held by a Republican?” by Tampa Bay Times’ William March

— “Tensions flare as Paris remains chair of Seminole GOP after ‘ghost’ candidate conviction,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin

— “Interest groups switch sides in Florida state House race,” by Tampa Bay Times’ William March

— “‘Mountain out of a molehill’: Charlie Crist dismisses criticism of Karla Hernandez remarks,” by Florida Politics’ Renzo Downey

AS THE PAGES TURNJustice Dept. asks appeals court to restore access to Trump raid documents, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney: The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to lift a judge’s order blocking criminal investigators from accessing about 100 documents with national security classification markings recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound last month. In a filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta Friday night, prosecutors said the government is facing irreparable harm as a result of U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling putting the potentially classified records off-limits to the investigative team until an outside expert conducts a review of them and considers Trump’s objections to their seizure.

— “Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories,” by The Associated Press David Klepper and Ali Swenson

ADDED DETAILS — “Gaetz sought pardon related to Justice Department sex trafficking probe,” by Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner: “Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from President Donald Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Johnny McEntee, according to people familiar with his testimony, told investigators that Gaetz told him during a brief meeting ‘that they are launching an investigation into him or that there’s an investigation into him,’ without specifying who was investigating Gaetz.”

Response — “A spokesperson for Gaetz declined to address the testimony or whether Gaetz discussed a pardon with McEntee or Meadows and instead responded that Gaetz never directly asked Trump for a pardon. ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz discussed pardons for many other people publicly and privately at the end of President Donald Trump’s first term,’ the spokesperson wrote in an email. ‘As for himself, President Trump addressed this malicious rumor more than a year ago stating, ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon.’ Rep. Gaetz continues to stand by President Trump’s statement.’”

GETTING HEATED — “Defense seeks judge’s removal in Florida school shooter case,” by The Associated Press: “Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz asked for the judge in his murder case to remove herself on Friday, two days after she scolded them when they abruptly rested their case after calling only a fraction of their expected witnesses. The Broward Public Defender’s Office said in a motion that Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer held a longstanding animosity toward lead defense lawyer Melisa McNeill. The motion cited Florida’s Judicial Code of Conduct that states a judge shall disqualify himself or herself if the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer.”

‘EXTREMELY DANGEROUS’ — “Millions without power in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona causes ‘catastrophic’ floods, authorities say,” by Miami Herald’s Syra Ortiz Blanes, Omar Rodriguez Ortiz, Jacqueline Charles and David J. Neal: “Hurricane Fiona knocked out Puerto Rico’s already-fragile electrical system on Sunday afternoon, leaving millions without power as authorities ask people to stay indoors because of catastrophic flooding. The U.S. territory is experiencing an island-wide blackout, private power utility operator LUMA Energy spokesman Hugo Sorrentini told the Miami Herald. He said the hurricane’s powerful winds had caused several interruptions in the grid’s transmission lines, leaving millions without power.”

A DEBATE RENEWED— “Should big insurers be required to cover homes in Florida along with autos?” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ron Hurtibise: “Every so often, a beleaguered Florida consumer proposes a way to fix Florida’s property insurance availability problem: The state legislature should require big national insurance companies that bombard the state with auto insurance ads to also sell homeowners insurance. After all, they ask, why should the big companies be allowed to cherry-pick the easier and most profitable motor vehicle risks while avoiding potentially costlier property risks?”

— “Some board members weigh in after DeSantis appointee hints at removing Broward superintendent,” by Miami Herald’s Jimena Tavel

— “Witness statements raise questions about Broward sheriff’s self-defense claim in 1993 deadly shooting,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s David Lyons

— “Miami-Dade failed to buy flooded homes. Now, high-risk sites open to more development,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Harris

BIRTHDAYS: Bill Varian, local government editor for Tampa Bay Times

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