Friday, March 1, 2024

DeSantis Suspends Another Public Official from Office

'... it is in the best interest of the residents of Miami-Dade County that Martinez be immediately suspended from the public office that he holds...'

(The Center Square) Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended another public official from office, this time Jose Angel Martinez, Miami-Dade County Commissioner-District 11, after he was arrested on Aug. 30.

Martinez was arrested “for felony charges of unlawful compensation for official behavior… and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation,” in violation of state statutes, which are second- and third-degree felonies, the governor’s office said.

DeSantis’s communications director issued a statement saying, “it is in the best interest of the residents of Miami-Dade County that Martinez be immediately suspended from the public office that he holds” and that his replacement would be appointed in the coming weeks.

Martinez first held his nonpartisan District 11 seat in 2000. He ran for Congress in 2014 as a Republican and lost. He then ran again for county commissioner in 2016 and won. He won reelection in 2020.

According to his arrest warrant, Martinez allegedly accepted a total of $15,000 in payments from a supermarket and property owner who was fighting a county ordinance and subsequent fines for being in violation, NBC News Miami reported. The owner allegedly made the payments while also lobbying the commissioners to amend the ordinance.

Martinez’s attorney, Benedict Kuehne, issued a statement saying the charges were “baseless” and “unfounded.” While Martinez looks forward to clearing his name, Kuehne said, he also supports whomever DeSantis chooses as his replacement.

“The Commissioner offers his support to whomever the [Gov.] decides to appoint to the Miami-Dade County District 11 seat. The most important issue continues to be providing services and protecting the well-being of the residents of the District 11 and of our entire community,” Kuehne said.

“Commissioner Martinez looks forward to being completely vindicated and cleared of any wrongdoing. He has devoted his entire adult life to serving the best interests of the public and he is humbled by the outpouring of support and confidence from the people of District 11 and throughout Miami-Dade County.”

According to Article IV, Section 7(a) of the Fla. Constitution, the Gov. may suspend from office any county officer for commission of a felony.

DeSantis did so via executive order, which prohibits Martinez “from performing any official act, duty or function of public office; from receiving any pay or allowance; and from being entitled to any of the emoluments or privileges of public office during the period of this suspension.”

Martinez is the most recent to lose his job after the Gov. issued executive orders last month suspending four Broward County School Board members “due to their incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority” and suspending State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit citing “neglect of duty” for vowing to not prosecute individuals who violate the state’s new abortion ban law.

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