A trio of Democrat lawmakers are calling on the House Judiciary Committee's GOP leadership to investigate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R) handling of the state law enforcement agency, alleging he is using it to advance his political agenda and intimidate voters.
"Given the allegations of abuse of authority, improper politicization, and voter intimidation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), I am calling on the Judiciary Committee to open an investigation and [hold a] public hearing into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's alleged mishandling of the agency," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
The letter, signed by Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), noted that because the FDLE receives $57 million in federal funding, Congress has the jurisdiction to investigate whether it is using the funds for "improper and unconstitutional ends." Their letter also noted that DeSantis's launch of a voting fraud unit employed help from the FDLE, which argued against the move because due to the lack of voting fraud cases.
The lawmakers alleged that DeSantis's push for the election police force was used to intimidate voters of color, blasting the police force as a "draconian response."
DeSantis signed a bill last year that created an election police force dedicated to investigating voter fraud and other election-related crimes.
"The Governor was reportedly motivated to target these individuals — mostly Black, an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency — to placate former President Trump and his false claims that widespread voter fraud led to his defeat in 2020, despite having won the State of Florida by three percentage points," the letter reads.
The lawmakers also alleged that DeSantis abused his power by sending FDLE to the southwest border, saying the move diverted resources from the state to "score political points in the runup to his campaign for president." And the lawmakers said the governor used the agency to target his political opponent, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, by producing crime statistics about his jurisdiction in an effort to make him "look bad."
"We cannot be good stewards of taxpayer dollars by funding a law enforcement arm that is being weaponized for a single governor's personal political purposes," the letter stated. "Whether it is seeking to disenfranchise voters, violate civil liberties, or dig up political dirt, the FDLE under Governor DeSantis's direction requires oversight by this Committee."
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis's office for comment.