Nikki Fried defies Ron DeSantis, won’t order flags at half-staff for Rush Limbaugh

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is pushing back after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference that he intends that flags be lowered to half-staff in Florida to recognize the late Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh died Wednesday at the age of 70 years old.

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DeSantis recently tweeted, “Casey and I are truly saddened to learn of the passing of fellow Floridian and our friend, Rush Limbaugh.”

During a news conference in West Palm Beach on Friday, DeSantis said, “Once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering the flags to half-staff.”

The governor’s announcement isn’t sitting well with Fried, who will issue direction to state offices under her purview in response to the governor’s intent.

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“Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots. It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh - because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division,” Fried said. “Lowering the flag should always reflect unity, not division, and raising our standards, not lowering them. Our flags will remain flying high to celebrate the American values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees dozens of state offices and facilities.

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According to the Executive Office of the Governor’s flag protocol, the flag is to be lowered primarily for federal officials, including the president, vice president, justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, speaker of the U.S. House, members of Congress from Florida, prominent State of Florida officials, and Florida law enforcement officers, firefighters and members of the Armed Forces from Florida who have died in the line of duty.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) also weighed in calling the governor’s decision “an embarrassment to Florida.”

“Rush Limbaugh weaponized his platform to spread racism, xenophobia and homophobia across the nation,” she said in a tweet. “His constant hateful rhetoric caused untold damage to our political landscape.”