TALLAHASHEE — On the first day of trial for outcast Hillsborough Attorney Andrew Warren to try to get his job back, a senior Gov. hostile and hostile” and needed to be kicked out of office.
But on Wednesday morning, Warren’s attorney swooped in to point out holes and omissions in his research during a cross-examination of public safety officer Larry Keef. I am investigating on behalf of DeSantis.
A cross-examination at one point prompted U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle asks Keefe, “Can you name one Democrat you spoke to other than the Orange County sheriff?”
Yes, Keef replied, but he made it clear that he didn’t know anyone’s political affiliation, nor would he care to know.
“My wife is a Democrat,” added Keef.
According to Keef, one of his first calls was to the Florida Sheriff’s Association. This is a political organization that regularly sides with Republicans, including DeSantis. (The association has filed a letter supporting Warren’s suspension.) He has also spoken to Republican sheriffs and prosecutors statewide, as well as Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody.
He spoke with Orange County Sheriff John Mina, who was aware of Warren’s “reputation” as “(George) Soros progressive prosecutor,” referring to billionaire liberal donors. And he said former Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister were critical of Warren.
Keefe said law enforcement officials would “pose a direct and direct danger to the people of Florida” if Warren’s policies were to spread statewide.
One of Warren’s attorneys, Jean-Jacques Cabou, asked Keef if he had spoken to Tampa’s current and former police chief Jane Castor, or someone in Warren’s office, or the victim’s rights. I asked him if he had spoken to the group about Warren’s actions.
Keef said no.
Hinkle, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, asked Keef if he had spoken to anyone in Hillsborough County other than law enforcement.
Keef is credited to brothers Preston and Rex Farrier of Tampa, who donated thousands of dollars to Republican politicians, including $20,000 to DeSantis, and Republican Pam Bondy’s successful Florida Attorney General campaign in 2010. I spoke with Tampa attorney Martin Garcia, who chaired the hearing. Garcia’s daughter, a federal prosecutor, was thought to be a potential senior member of the firm after DeSantis ousted Warren, Keef said. testified.)
Gain insight into Florida politics
Subscribe to our free Buzz newsletter
Political Editor Emily L. Mahoney brings you a roundup of local, state and national political coverage every Thursday.
You are all signed up!
Want a free weekly newsletter added to your inbox? let’s start.
explore all options
But I couldn’t think of a single document that provided information about the specific law Warren had not prosecuted that led to his dismissal.
Cabou gave examples of prosecutors in Miami-Dade, Broward and Leon counties refusing to prosecute low-level marijuana crimes. Keef said it was a policy he was familiar with when he was a federal attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
However, Keef said he did not investigate those policies during a review of prosecutors who did not pursue the crime.
Keef was also asked if he was aware that in 2020, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma refused to mandate assault weapons registration if enacted by a constitutional amendment.
Until recently, Keefe did not respond.
“It concerns me,” Keef said.
“Maybe you should send me a letter.”
Keef had already set his sights on Warren before signing his name on a June 24 letter by the National Criminal Justice Reform Group promising that state attorneys would not prosecute abortion cases.
A DeSantis official this week said the letter was the deciding factor in Warren’s dismissal. But DeSantis’ legal adviser, Ryan Newman, was the first to suggest a different approach, writing to his colleagues:
They decided not to.
Before DeSantis suspended Warren, DeSantis’ attorneys did not contact him or anyone in his office. They didn’t ask for office policy, and they didn’t ask for data from his office to show how his policy affected the prosecution.
At one point, someone in DeSantis’ office drafted a memo and sent it to all state attorneys, requesting information about their “comprehensive” policy on prosecutions, but according to court records this week, it was It was never sent.
Raymond Treadwell, DeSantis’ chief deputy general counsel, testified Wednesday that he would have “informed him” of his suspension by contacting Warren and others in the office.
DeSantis’ attorneys didn’t begin requesting information from Warren’s office until after his suspension on Aug. 4 — and only to prepare for a legal trial in the Florida Senate.Treadwell said.
That trial in the Senate never happened because Warren appealed to federal court, claiming that his right to free speech had been violated.
DeSantis’ legal team “absolutely” did not anticipate Warren’s legal claims, Treadwell admitted Wednesday.
George Soros is a central figure
Keef wrote the first draft of the governor’s executive order removing Warren from office, which relied solely on Warren’s letter that he would not prosecute abortion-related crimes.
It also contained numerous references to Mr. Soros, accusing Warren of “yielding his authority to his views on Mr. Soros’ prosecution.” And it said Soros funded Warren’s campaign through “pass-through agencies, including Democrats.”
Treadwell removed the language from the draft, stating, “But they may be of value to the larger political narrative.”
When asked why he cut it Wednesday, Treadwell said the Soros information “has no grounds for suspension.”
The final draft of the order did not include a reference to Soros, but DeSantis did so in the press conference announcing the suspension and in his subsequent appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show.
At issue in this week’s trial is why DeSantis chose to fire Warren. Warren, his two-time Democrat, ran on a progressive platform with indirect funding from Soros.
DeSantis said he fired Warren for signing because he refused to uphold the law through progressive police policy. Two statements from the National Criminal Justice Organization said he had pledged not to prosecute crimes related to abortion and transgender treatment.
Warren’s attorney, however, claimed this week that Warren was targeted because of his beliefs.
Warren’s team dropped the lawsuit on Wednesday. The lawsuit could end Thursday after DeSantis’ attorneys called his three witnesses. Hinkle could rule as soon as the trial ends.