Worrell says Orange GOP official is helping DeSantis’ office in ‘witch-hunt’

·3 min read

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell on Friday accused a state committeewoman of fishing for examples of her failing to prosecute cases in order to feed them to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who she has repeatedly said is building a case to justify her suspension.

The late Friday press release from Worrell said, earlier that day, an employee of the State Attorney’s Office had been contacted by Orange County Republican Executive Committee State Committeewoman Debbie Galvin, who allegedly requested at least two examples in which “State Attorney Worrell had failed to prosecute cases to get justice for victims of human trafficking crimes.”

According to the State Attorney’s Office, Galvin told the employee that she was “supposed to provide this information to the governor’s office last week, but, needed to have it over to them by Monday, May 1st.”

“We are unaware of Ms. Galvin’s relationship with Governor Ron DeSantis, and are equally unaware of whether or not she has the authority to make such requests on his behalf,” the statement from Worrell’s office said. “After interviewing the employees in our office who were involved, we were made aware that the information was necessary for an event scheduled to take place on Monday, May 1st.”

She continued: “It’s appalling to think that while Ft. Lauderdale was under water, the Governor had people fishing around Orange and Osceola Counties to see which cases he can single out from over 100,000 cases our office has processed since I have taken office, while he prances around Southeast Asia on his dilapidated presidential campaign tour.”

Neither Galvin nor the governor’s office immediately responded to a request for comment.

The news release from Worrell comes months after DeSantis lambasted her office, saying its prosecutors were negligent for not pursuing a misdemeanor drug charge against suspect Keith Moses more than a year before he was accused of killing three people and injuring two others in a Pine Hills shooting spree.

A formal inquiry by the DeSantis administration was sent days after the February shooting, demanding records pertaining to Moses and how Worrell’s office prosecutes people with prior convictions.

Since then, Worrell’s office has been criticized by local law enforcement officials for what they have also said is a pattern of non-prosecution. Worrell has repeatedly denied and provided data to discredit the allegations, which she has said are being used to build a case against her.

“Ms. Galvin’s efforts support the fact that there aren’t any policies that would justify my suspension, and the Governor’s team is pursuing this witch-hunt to establish a basis for the removal of another duly-elected prosecutor,” the statement said. “This request mirrors similar requests from local law enforcement officials who have requested data of my first two years in office.”

DeSantis in August suspended former Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, accusing the prosecutor of implementing a policy of “presumptive non-enforcement” of some low-level criminal violations and citing a pledge Warren signed against pursuing abortion-related cases.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.