MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is a flag fight brewing in Florida between Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Governor Ron DeSantis over his plan to lower flags across the state to honor the late controversial radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh died last week of lung cancer at the age of 70.
At a news conference in West Palm Beach on Friday, Governor DeSantis announced he will order state flags lowered to half-staff in honor of the Palm Beach resident, once his funeral arrangements are announced.
However, the unflinchingly conservative, and wildly partisan talk show host, does not fit within the State’s protocol for lowering the State flag and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Monday she won’t let it happen.
In a statement released Monday, Fried wrote, “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. 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.”
According to the Executive Office of the Governor’s Flag Protocol, state flags are to be flown at half-staff after the death of a principal figure in the U.S. government, such as a President or former President, Vice President, Supreme Court Justice or retired Justice or Speaker of the House. The protocol also states flags can be flown at half-staff for a Supreme Court Associate Justice, secretary of an executive or military department, former Vice President of the United States or Member of Congress from Florida. The Governor can also order flags flown at half-staff after the death of a Florida State government official, or death of Armed Forces member from Florida while serving on active duty, in addition to prominent present or former State of Florida officials and Florida law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty and selected other State and local officials.
The Mayor of Oakland Park, Jane Bolin, also claims the governor’s decision to lower state flags for Limbaugh is “questionable” and violates Florida protocol.
Limbaugh was frequently accused of bigotry and blatant racism but could often enunciate the Republican platform better and more entertainingly than any party leader, becoming a GOP kingmaker.
Former President Trump heaped praise on Limbaugh, and during last year’s State of the Union speech, awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
On Feb. 17, the day of Limbaugh’s death, Trump lauded Limbaugh on Fox News as “a legend” who “was fighting till the very end.”
Governor DeSantis called Limbaugh the “GOAT – of radio, of conservative media and of inspiring a loyal army of American patriots.” DeSantis also credited Limbaugh with helping him reach voters and ultimately win the Governor’s race.
Nikki Fried is the only Democrat to hold a statewide office. She released a video last week which took shots at DeSantis in a campaign-style video that casts the Republican as unempathetic amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic and beholden to Donald Trump.