DeSantis announced on Friday the appointment of condition Rep. Wire Byrd as the future secretary of state, a working day soon after the present officeholder, Laurel Lee, introduced she was resigning. Byrd can take above the Florida Division of State at a vital juncture in the agency’s historical past: For the to start with time, the place of work will oversee a new election security drive with unparalleled authority to hunt for election and voting violations in the state. The new election power was a leading precedence for DeSantis, who signed a regulation to create the Business office of Election Crimes and Security previously this 12 months.
“Underneath the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has led the way on election safety and preserving liberty for its citizens,” Byrd mentioned in a statement. “As Secretary of State, I will make positive Florida carries on to have safe elections and that we guard the freedom of our citizens in the experience of massive-tech censorship and ever-increasing cybersecurity threats.”
The alter in leadership arrives amid a active midterm election cycle where by DeSantis will be on the ballot, and with the Division of State embroiled in numerous lawsuits in excess of Florida’s new congressional map and a 2021 law that place new restrictions on mail-in voting and other election measures. On Thursday, a point out decide known as the new DeSantis-backed congressional boundaries unconstitutional because they diminish the energy of Black voters in northern Florida, but an appellate court docket on Friday stayed the lessen court’s ruling.
Lee, the outgoing secretary of state, has gained praise for remaining a constant hand from the county election officials who oversee voting across the state. Supporters of former President Donald Trump have at situations set immense strain on Lee and county election officers to perform an Arizona-model evaluate of the 2020 election, even though Trump received Florida by a healthy margin. Lee rejected these efforts, expressing last 12 months that the success in 2020 had been “accurate, reliable.”
In tapping Byrd for the submit, DeSantis famous the lawmaker’s sponsorship of a handful of divisive costs in latest yrs, together with legislation to ban sanctuary towns and a 2021 measure signed by the governor that put new limitations on protests in the wake of civil unrest subsequent the law enforcement killing of George Floyd. A judge halted implementation of the monthly bill, contacting it unconstitutional and a “entice for the harmless.”
Byrd is a lawyer from Neptune Beach front. His follow specializes in firearms-similar circumstances, according to his web site, this sort of as helping purchasers get revoked hid weapon licenses reinstated or desirable a firearm acquire denial. On the site and on Fb
, Byrd refers to himself as the “Florida gun lawyer.”
Previously this calendar year, state Rep. Angie Nixon, a Black Democratic lawmaker, accused Byrd
of “antagonizing and cussing at Black Caucus customers” in the course of flooring debate on a invoice to ban abortion immediately after 15 months of being pregnant. Nixon reported Byrd experienced hurled expletives at them as protesters staged a demonstration in the Property gallery.
Byrd, in reaction, did not deny applying the expletive but stated it was not directed at point out lawmakers and called Nixon a “one-trick pony” who routinely statements political opponents are racists and White supremacists, according to Florida Politics
“Cord Byrd has been an ally of freedom and democracy in the Florida Legislature, and I am self-assured he will carry that mission ahead as Secretary of Condition,” DeSantis claimed in a statement. “I search forward to his successes making sure Florida’s elections remain safe and sound, safe and properly-administered.”
Twine is the second Byrd appointed by DeSantis to a point out write-up this year. In March, DeSantis named Byrd’s spouse, Esther, to the condition Board of Training. The appointment resurfaced Esther Byrd’s social media background, which bundled posts that appeared to describe the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol as “Trump supporters peacefully protest,” when also alluding to “the coming civil wars.” Wire Byrd explained to a Jacksonville tv station
that the remarks from his wife were being “hyperbole.”