TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Rep. Bob Cortes wants Gov. Rick Scott to remove State Attorney Aramis Ayala from office, Cortes said in a statement Monday.
The Seminole County lawmaker held a news conference outside the state Capitol on Tuesday morning to formally call on Scott to suspend Ayala.
"She's trying to change law, and that is not her job as a prosecuting attorney, as a state attorney," Cortes said. "Legislators change law. She is elected there to follow it."
The governor on Monday issued an executive order that reassigned 21 murder cases from Ayala to State Attorney Brad King, whom he previously appointed to prosecute Markeith Loyd's murder case.
"I expect her to prosecute to the fullest extend of the law," Gov. Scott said during a news conference Tuesday.
State Attorney Brad King filed a motion Monday of his intent to seek the death penalty against Loyd for the deaths of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.
Ayala criticized Scott's decision on Monday, saying that she learned the cases were being reassigned through news reports.
"Ms. Ayala remains steadfast in her position the governor is abusing his authority and has compromised the independence and integrity of the criminal justice system," a spokeswoman for Ayala's office said.
Scott removed Ayala from Loyd's case last month after she announced that she wouldn't pursue the death penalty in Loyd's case or any others during her tenure.
"I appreciate the governor’s decisive action to pursue justice for the victims of the unspeakable crimes represented by these cases," Cortes said. "I continue to believe justice would best be served by her suspension from office, and I urge Gov. Scott to seek her removal."
Cortes said Ayala neglected her duty to those who elected her by deciding not to pursue capital punishment. He said she should decide it on a case-by-case basis.
Article 5, Section 17 of the Florida state Constitution allows the governor to remove any elected official who isn't fulfilling his or her duty, Cortes said.
"While the governor has discretion in this case, he is really letting his politics speak. He is sending the message to state attorneys in the future that if you aren't in line with the governor's politics, he can make changes at any time. That is a bad precedence to set," said Bishop Kelvin Cobaris, with Impact Church.
Scott, while at a job event on Tuesday, would not say definitively if he would remove Ayala from office. He would only say that he was "exploring his options."
"These are horrific crimes. You should expect a state attorney to take case by case, review the facts, make a decision based on facts. Don't make some blanket decision that they're not going to pursue it. I'm going to look at every case and think about the families," Scott said.
Cox Media Group