Florida Judge Sides With Brenda Snipes Over Suspension

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Posted: Jan 13, 2019 3:15 PM
Florida Judge Sides With Brenda Snipes Over Suspension

Source: AP Photo/Joe Skipper

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker ruled on Wednesday that former Florida Gov. Rick Scott had no right to suspend Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes in November. Snipes had already announced her plans to retire on Jan. 4, before Gov. Scott effectively fired her. 

Snipes was the face of the Broward County election controversy in November after her county became one of only two in the state that failed provide a ballot count in the Senate race between Scott and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by the initial deadlines. They then missed a couple more deadlines after that. At one point Snipes was confronted by the press but she was unable to provide the number of outstanding ballots her office was still counting. This wasn't the first scandal for Snipes either. As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) noted, Circuit Judge Raag Singhal ruled that Snipes had illegally destroyed ballots during Debbie Wasserman Schultz's primary race against challenger Tim Canova in 2016.

You can see why Scott and his fellow Florida Republicans were peeved over the head scratching delays and mismanagement. So, Scott retaliated with the suspension. Judge Walker, who it turns out has issued other rulings against the governor, accused Scott of overstepping his authority.

“Judges face murky legal issues every day," Walker wrote in his ruling. "Today is not one of those days. Flagrantly disregarding [Snipes’] constitutional rights fits into an unfortunate rhythm for Scott.”

Scott's office shot back at the “liberal judge" and stood by their decision. 

“She failed to fulfill her duties, and for that she was suspended and should stay suspended,” Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said. 

Now, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is required to issue a new order by the end of the month explaining the reasons for Snipes’ suspension, and demand that Snipes be granted a special hearing before the governor no later than March 31. 

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DeSantis is now left to "clean up" Scott's dispute with Snipes, as the Miami Herald puts it. 

On Friday, DeSantis delivered his own suspension, reprimanding Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his lackluster leadership in the aftermath of last February's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His department failed on several accounts, but Israel failed to take any responsibility. That will explain why several students and parents connected to Broward celebrated DeSantis's announcement.