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‘It is the loss of democracy’: Monique Worrell responds to her suspension as state attorney

ORLANDO, Fla. — During a Wednesday morning news conference outside the Orange County Courthouse, Monique Worrell spoke out strongly against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who suspended her as the Ninth Judicial Circuit state attorney several hours earlier.

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Worrell repeatedly described the governor’s decision as “political gamesmanship” and “political shenanigans.”

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: It is the loss of democracy,” she said. “I am your dually elected state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that. This is an outrage.”

DeSantis cited “a neglect of duty” when he announced Wednesday morning that he was immediately suspending Worrell. Click here to read his full executive order on her suspension.

He appointed Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Bain to take over as Orange-Osceola County State Attorney during Worrell’s suspension.

Read: Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell

“Justice does not prevail in the state of Florida at this time,” Worrell said. “This should not happen in a democracy.”

She said she was elected by voters three years ago “differently” and “unconventionally” and asserted that she had been transparent about how she would run her office.

“Elected officials are being taken out of office solely for political purposes, and that should never be a thing,” Worrell said, describing DeSantis as “an individual who has single-handedly destroyed democracy in the state of the Florida.”

DeSantis described Worrell’s administration as “clearly and fundamentally derelict, constituting neglect of duty and incompetence.”

“It is my duty as governor to ensure that the laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature are followed,” he said. “The people of Central Florida deserve to have a state attorney who will seek justice in accordance with the law instead of allowing violent criminals to roam the streets and find new victims.”

During her news conference, Worrell mentioned that DeSantis had fired his presidential campaign manager a day earlier.

“I guess today is my turn,” she said. “He is replacing me.”

Worrell thanked her staff during the news conference, saying “I know this is an unsettling time for you.”

Read DeSantis’ full executive order suspending State Attorney Monique Worrell

She also said that while law enforcement officers are often suspended with pay while they are under investigation, now that she has been suspended, she will no longer be paid or have benefits for her or her three children, who return to school Thursday.

Worrell said two of her deputy chief assistants were also fired, one of whom has five children to support.

She said she has assembled a legal team prepared to fight the governor’s decision in court but said that the fight will be challenging because some of the judges she could face have been appointed by DeSantis.

“I am a fighter, and I will fight,” she said. “This will not stop me from running for reelection.”

Watch: State Attorney Monique Worrell discusses Daton Viel’s criminal history

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.

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