SUNRISE (CBSMiami) — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) is the latest Florida lawmaker to fight back against Governor Ron DeSantis’s plan to order state flags be flown at half-staff to honor the passing of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Wasserman Schultz wrote to local mayors in her district, including Weston, Davie, Pembroke Pines, and Aventura, to urge them to ignore DeSantis’s order.
Hours after the death of Rush Limbaugh last week, DeSantis said he would order the flags in his state be lowered to half-staff once funeral arrangements are announced.
“There’s not much that needs to be said. The guy was an absolute legend,” DeSantis explained. “He was a friend of mine and just a great person.”
Well that’s a matter of debate. While there’s no question that Limbaugh is an icon for many conservatives, he was also a voice of intolerance on matters of race, gender and ethnicity.
Wasserman Schultz believes the directive by DeSantis goes outside standard protocols and serves no unifying purpose, such as President Biden’s directive this week to lower flags on federal property to honor the half million American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Rush Limbaugh spent his career normalizing and popularizing hatred and bigotry against people of color, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. He built a brand around disgusting insults, bolstering rape culture, spewing lies about the AIDS crisis, and nonstop bullying. The targets of his attacks often received death threats from his sycophantic fan base. To the end, he stoked the environment that led to an insurrectionist attack on our Capitol, and dismissed calls to end such violence,” Wasserman Schultz wrote to area mayors. “American political discourse is in a dangerous state. Our country is the most divided it has been since the Civil War. As we work to heal the nation, we cannot elevate a person credited for fostering our divisions and emboldening the worst tendencies of human nature.”
In the letter the Congresswoman sent to area mayors, she wrote, “To offer this type of statewide, official recognition to someone as morally reprehensible as Rush Limbaugh is an affront to all Floridians”
Click here to read the full letter the Congresswoman sent to area mayors.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also planning to defy DeSantis’s order.
Opponents argue Limbaugh doesn’t qualify for the honor.
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.
Here’s the another relevant piece of Florida law about flag-lowering:
“The Governor shall adopt a protocol on flag display. The protocol must provide guidelines for the proper display of the state flag and for the lowering of the state flag to half-staff on appropriate occasions, such as on holidays and upon the death of high-ranking state officials, uniformed law enforcement and fire service personnel, and prominent citizens.”
DeSantis is focusing on only the first part of that guidance — that he sets “protocol on flag display.” Fried, Wasserman Schultz and others put more emphasis on the second half of the statute, which says that flags can be ordered lowered “upon the death of high-ranking state officials, uniformed law enforcement and fire service personnel, and prominent citizens.”