Saying Florida voters were “subjected to shameless grandstanding by politicians who have recklessly ignored the urgent needs of our state’s judicial system,” Republican U.S. Senate candidate Keith Gross blasted Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott over the State Attorney suspension drama.
“We’re all tired of politicians manipulating situations to try and score points,” U.S. Senate candidate Gross said. “That is exactly what Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott are doing regarding the suspension of this State Attorney. In the end this is just another political stunt by DeSantis in a desperate attempt to distract from his dismal poll numbers. Florida deserves solutions. Worrell may in fact be a liberal but that isn’t why her office can’t fight criminals. It’s because they’re outgunned by defense lawyers who make twice what the prosecutor makes and because they’re hopelessly short staffed because they don’t have the budget to pay market rate wages.”
The politics of the situation have been heated since the Governor’s announcement, but having a statewide Republican candidate call out a fellow incumbent Republican like this adds a new perspective to the political debate.
“Today, we’re subjected to shameless grandstanding by politicians who have recklessly ignored the urgent needs of our state’s judicial system,” Republican Keith Gross said after Governor DeSantis suspended Osceola-Orange State Attorney Monique Worrell.
“As a former prosecutor, I categorically reject the soft-on-crime stances advocated by some, but I also refuse to turn a blind eye to the abject failures of both Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in adequately financing state attorney’s offices. The very same deficiencies we witness in Democrat State Attorney Monique Worrell’s actions are replicated in the practices of Republican State Attorney offices across the state. This issue transcends party affiliations; it’s emblematic of a leadership vacuum. Their preference for theatrical national posturing over serving Florida’s citizens is glaringly evident and it is not in the best interest of our state’s people. I expect our governor to offer solutions, and adequate funding, not lay the blame of understaffing on someone who isn’t in charge of the budget.”
Gross has experience as an Assistant State Attorney and said his campaign has worked to expose the serious issues undermining law and order in Florida.
“The criticism Governor DeSantis places on Worrell’s performance is essentially that she makes plea deals, which every state attorney’s office does, because they are forced to,” the Republican Senate candidate added. “They don’t have enough lawyers to try cases who refuse to plead guilty so they have no choice but to reduce some charges to entice defendants to take the deal. That’s not necessarily the State Attorney’s desire, but often they have no choice because the lack of funding when Rick Scott was governor has been largely continued under the DeSantis administration.”
Gross pledged to make this an issue in the Senate race as well. “I will unapologetically champion the cause of state attorneys offices,” he said. “I will fight for appropriate levels of funding to enable them to efficiently prosecute criminals and hold criminals responsible for their actions. We can’t underfund a critical government operation then complain that it doesn’t work well. That’s particularly true if you’re the guy in charge of funding them like Governors Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis.”
Gross also had pointed questions for Governor DeSantis, including what tangible measures have been undertaken to rectify the funding inadequacies in our justice system that were handed down from the tenure of Governor Rick Scott, and why is it that State Attorneys’ offices remain systematically underfunded, resulting in the absence of skilled trial lawyers capable of taking the necessary number of defendants to trial?
“It is disingenuous to chronically underfund prosecutors’ offices and then try to score political points by blaming them for a problem they did not create,” Gross said. “State Attorneys cannot recruit and retain skilled trial lawyers by paying them $60k per year, which is the going rate. These same attorneys can earn nearly twice that in a private firm. Virtually every prosecutor’s office in our state has huge gaps in their staffing with many having only half of the trial attorneys they need. Rick Scott cut funding (and retirement benefits) for prosecutors when he was governor and Ron DeSantis has worked to increase the prior $45k per year up to $60k but that is far too little to make up the gap. Considering all the other things the government wastes money on, it should find the savings to properly fund our State Attorneys’ offices and put an emphasis on public safety. Crime must have consequences and that only happens when prosecutors take these criminals to trial.”
Florida Democrats also responded to Governor Ron DeSantis’ suspension of State Attorney Monique Worrell, calling the move “politically motivated” and saying the Republican Governor and Presidential candidate “has gone too far.”
The Republican Senate candidate concluded with a connection to his business experience. “In business, I used to tell people that if you bring me a problem you’d better have a proposed solution,” Gross said. “We can all find problems. Leaders should find solutions. Here the solution isn’t a mystery: pay reasonable wages to the trial lawyers we need to and take the criminals to trial.”