DeSantis faucets self-described ‘Florida gun lawyer’ to supervise elections

DeSantis taps self-described 'Florida gun lawyer' to oversee elections

2022-05-14 03:58:31

DeSantis introduced on Friday the appointment of state Rep. Wire Byrd as the following secretary of state, a day after the present officeholder, Laurel Lee, introduced she was resigning. Byrd takes over the Florida Division of State at a crucial juncture within the company’s historical past: For the primary time, the workplace will oversee a brand new election safety pressure with unprecedented authority to hunt for election and voting violations within the state. The brand new election pressure was a prime precedence for DeSantis, who signed a regulation to create the Workplace of Election Crimes and Safety earlier this yr.

“Beneath the management of Governor DeSantis, Florida has led the way in which on election safety and preserving freedom for its residents,” Byrd mentioned in a press release. “As Secretary of State, I’ll make sure that Florida continues to have safe elections and that we defend the liberty of our residents within the face of big-tech censorship and ever-growing cybersecurity threats.”

The change in management comes amid a busy midterm election cycle the place DeSantis will probably be on the poll, and with the Division of State embroiled in a number of lawsuits over Florida’s new congressional map and a 2021 regulation that put new restrictions on mail-in voting and different election measures. On Thursday, a state choose known as the brand new DeSantis-backed congressional boundaries unconstitutional as a result of they diminish the ability of Black voters in northern Florida, however an appellate court docket on Friday stayed the decrease court docket’s ruling.

Lee, the outgoing secretary of state, has earned reward for being a gradual hand from the county election officers who oversee voting throughout the state. Supporters of former President Donald Trump have at occasions put immense strain on Lee and county election officers to conduct an Arizona-style evaluation of the 2020 election, though Trump received Florida by a wholesome margin. Lee rejected these efforts, saying final yr that the leads to 2020 have been “correct, dependable.”

In tapping Byrd for the submit, DeSantis famous the lawmaker’s sponsorship of a handful of divisive payments lately, together with laws to ban sanctuary cities and a 2021 measure signed by the governor that positioned new restrictions on protests within the wake of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd. A choose halted implementation of the invoice, calling it unconstitutional and a “lure for the harmless.”

Byrd is a lawyer from Neptune Seaside. His apply makes a speciality of firearms-related circumstances, in accordance with his web site, corresponding to serving to purchasers get revoked hid weapon licenses reinstated or interesting a firearm buy denial. On the location and on Fb, Byrd refers to himself because the “Florida gun lawyer.”
Earlier this yr, state Rep. Angie Nixon, a Black Democratic lawmaker, accused Byrd of “antagonizing and cussing at Black Caucus members” throughout flooring debate on a invoice to ban abortion after 15 weeks of being pregnant. Nixon mentioned Byrd had hurled expletives at them as protesters staged an illustration within the Home gallery.
Byrd, in response, didn’t deny utilizing the expletive however mentioned it was not directed at state lawmakers and known as Nixon a “one-trick pony” who routinely claims political opponents are racists and White supremacists, in accordance with Florida Politics.

“Wire Byrd has been an ally of freedom and democracy within the Florida Legislature, and I’m assured he’ll carry that mission ahead as Secretary of State,” DeSantis mentioned in a press release. “I look ahead to his successes making certain Florida’s elections stay protected, safe and well-administered.”

Wire is the second Byrd appointed by DeSantis to a state submit this yr. In March, DeSantis named Byrd’s spouse, Esther, to the state Board of Training. The appointment resurfaced Esther Byrd’s social media historical past, which included posts that appeared to explain the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol as “Trump supporters peacefully protest,” whereas additionally alluding to “the approaching civil wars.” Wire Byrd advised a Jacksonville tv station that the remarks from his spouse have been “hyperbole.”

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