Florida's GOP Politicians Keep Threatening to Jail Democratic Mayors

Florida's GOP Politicians Keep Threatening to Jail Democratic Mayors
via Twitter video

Last week, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asking her to investigate two of Florida's most prominent Democratic leaders, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, for running "sanctuary cities" that refuse to detain immigrants on behalf of the federal government. It's not a coincidence that Gillum is running for governor right now — Corcoran, who is eyeing a run for the GOP nomination, seems to have no problem trying to arrest his political opponents.

This was not the only threat of arrest state politicians levied at Democrats this month. Yesterday, Rep. Jay Fant, another first-class lunatic from Jacksonville, promised to send immigrant-protecting mayors to jail if he's elected Florida's next attorney general.

"The difference between immigration and illegal immigration is that illegal immigration is illegal," he said, proving once and for all that Fant is smarter than we are. He then, for some reason, included a dramatic shot of two migrants climbing over some sort of border fence, despite the fact that Florida does not share a land border with any other nation.

"Elected officials who prop up this paradigm of illegal immigration need to be prosecuted because they are breaking the law," he continued. "I'm sick and tired of it; people are sick and tired of reading about it. We play by the rules; so should they. We have rules about immigration; they should be followed. Those who break the rules as sanctuary cities, and those who enable them, need to be prosecuted, and as attorney general, that's what we're going to do."

It's worth noting here that Fant almost certainly will not win. He lags pretty far behind front-running GOP candidate and former judge Ashley Moody, even with the $750,000 of his own cash he injected into his campaign. Fant is a third-generation fail-son heir to the family that started Jacksonville's First Guaranty Bank, but Jacksonville's Folio Weekly notes that, since getting elected to the state house in 2014, he's been a completely ineffectual legislator and is mostly disliked among other lawmakers.

That might be because Fant is insane: He has repeatedly tried to paint Moody, a conservative judge, as a "Hillary Clinton puppet" during this race. If there's one thing the evil Clinton cabal wants to rig, it's state-level attorney general primary races. He's also tried to use this nonsense conspiracy to get Moody kicked off the ballot, like a true rich brat.

Moody and Fant are also running against state Reps. Frank White and Ross Spano. Last year, Spano sponsored a bill to declare pornography a "public health crisis" — but the same day he filed the bill, the Orlando Weekly caught Spano "liking" a porn video on Twitter.

On the Democratic side, front-running Tampa state Rep. Sean Shaw has promised to be an "activist" attorney general who will prosecute opioid-pushing pharmaceutical companies and other corporate raiders, while at the same time not wasting money on nonsense like fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage, which current AG Pam Bondi blew millions battling. He also says he'll act as a "consumer watchdog."

While Fant will most likely flame out during his AG run, he is still a state legislator, which is terrifying. Fant actually criticized the University of Florida last year for not allowing Richard Spencer, an actual neo-Nazi, to speak on campus. As the Jacksonville Times-Union noted in 2017, the only ace Fant may still have in the race is that Gov. Rick Scott kinda-sorta likes him, and so a Scott endorsement could push his campaign skyward.

Sadly, a threat like Fant's against Democratic mayors does have consequences. The Florida House passed a sanctuary-city crackdown earlier this month, though that bill appears dead in the state Senate. But, thanks to threats from federal officials, Miami-Dade County has agreed to detain people on behalf of ICE, sparking complaints and a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

A group of Central Florida sheriffs also unveiled a joint plan this month with ICE that lets the federal government use Florida as a testing ground to figure out how to use legal loopholes to hold immigrants in jails without cause. Just yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to subpoena West Palm Beach and 22 other cities for allegedly refusing to comply with ICE detainers, which are unconstitutional — but Corcoran cheerled the federal crackdown.

These sorts of threats increasingly seem normal in Florida's insanity-caked political climate and appear to get smaller and smaller play in statewide newspapers. But leaders like Fant and Corcoran need to get chucked over whatever border wall Fant thinks exists in Florida before things start to get really dangerous.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.